“Try turmeric”, encouraged my friend Mary. “It will help with those gardening aches and pains.”
Intrigued, I set you to do some culinary research.
Turmeric, pronounced TER-muh-rikh, is the root of a ancient tropical plant related to ginger. Used most frequently in a dried, ground and powdered form, I have seen the turmeric roots in some supermarkets. The color is striking, an intense yellow-orange. I use turmeric in preparing Bread and Butter pickles, and turmeric is what gives American-style mustard it’s bright yellow color.
The recipe for Golden Rice is a local riff on an Iranian cuisine specialty. Basmati rice is first cooked with ground curry and ground turmeric, and that’s when I learned the true beauty of turmeric.
It’s the exotic fragrance that really sets this spice apart. Intense, almost overpowering, it kept drawing me back to the stove. I can certainly understand why in biblical times, turmeric was also used to make perfume.
In the food as medicine research, curcumin, a chemical component of turmeric, is widely studied as a potential anti-inflammatory. In ancient medicine with India-based roots, turmeric was used to treat a wide variety of ailments including indigestion, liver ailments, and the common cold.
In our Golden Rice, turmeric imparts a rich, golden color. Two chopped fresh herbs plentiful in the garden now, chives and lovage, add a nice green punch and fresh, savory bite. The red cranberries and nuts are more jewels in the crown.
This dish is best warm or at room temperature, which makes it great fare to take to a cookout or picnic. Maybe if I eat enough turmeric, I’ll still be able to play the lawn games!
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons ground curry powder
- 1 cup chopped lovage or chopped celery
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped fresh chives
- ½ cup chopped nuts
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- In a large pot on top of the stove, (or rice cooker), combine the rice with the chicken stock, water, turmeric and curry powders. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 35 - 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Let sit for five minutes and then fluff with a fork.
- To prepare the salad, add the rice to a large non-reactive bowl. Stir in the chopped lovage, dried cranberries, frozen peas, chopped chives and chopped nuts. Add the dressing ingredients, mixing well. Taste the rice and season with sea salt and fresh pepper.