Turmeric is a glorious ingredient! This is no shy or subtle spice. Its vibrant yellow orange color seems to blast an announcement of its strong flavor and abundant medicinal qualities. A rhizome in the ginger family, turmeric is as earthy as the soil it is pulled from, with a peppery, warm and mildly bitter flavor and a fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. Turmeric grows plentifully in hot, wet climates such as Bali’s and is a major ingredient in Indonesian health tonics and cuisine.
Turmeric’s bright orange color indicates that it contains a high degree of beta carotene, the compound our bodies use to make vitamin A. Turmeric is an excellent source of both iron and manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber and potassium.
Turmeric has been harvested for over 5,000 years; since the Biblical era turmeric has fragranced perfumes, spiced food and dyed clothing, and its scientific name, curcuma, is derived from Arabic. Written records of its use in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine go back almost 1,500 years. Native to Indonesia and southern India — in fact the bright red forehead mark worn by some Hindu women is created by mixing turmeric with lime juice — turmeric has long been a part of the medicinal and culinary culture of the region. The list of health benefits turmeric provides is so long, and the scientific research so vastly documented, it is hard to do it justice in this brief introduction. Suffice it to say that turmeric offers abundant gifts to our bodies as a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer agent with the potential to address numerous chronic illnesses. Indonesians even use turmeric topically on cuts and sores due to its antiseptic qualities.
OK! OK! How can I eat more of this stuff?
Ready to up the intake of turmeric in your diet? Here are some easy and tasty ideas to bring fresh, raw turmeric into your meals!
In Bali, turmeric is easy to find. Large mounds of turmeric are available in the pasar, or local traditional markets. Every little roadside stand, or warung, carries turmeric and the grocery stores always have a supply of fresh turmeric as well. Ask for kunyit. When purchasing, look for turmeric roots that are not shriveled and have a vibrant yellow-orange color when broken open. Store your fresh turmeric in a cool, dark place or in the fridge where it will last for at least a week.
Although it does not hold its rich yellow color in the sun, turmeric has been long used as a dying agent. Just look at your fingers when cutting raw turmeric and you’ll immediately be aware of its potency as a dye. (Try white vinegar for color removal).
This root is highly revered in Ayurvedic medicine, as well as general South Asian cuisine. Native to Southern Asia, the name curcuma comes from the Arabic word “kurkum”, or “saffron”, and is an indication of its relationship to the vibrant orange color of both herbs. Since Biblical times, turmeric has been used to spice foods, make perfume and color clothing.
Living Cauliflower “Couscous ”
1 medium sized head of cauliflower
1/3 cup, or 80 mL, of turmeric juice (just push turmeric through a juicer, skin and all, or finely grate a 6-7 cm piece of turmeric and mix with water) 1/3 cup, or 80 mL, olive oil juice of one lemon
1 handful of fresh cilantro, destemmed and chopped
1 handful of fresh mint, destemmed and chopped
1 handful of fresh basil, destemmed and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup, or 120 mL, green beans, chopped
2 cups, or 1/2 mL, cherry tomatoes, quartered (may substitute roma or heirloom)
2 small shallots, chopped (may substitute red onion)
1 clove garlic, minced sea salt to taste
Roughly chop the cauliflower and pulse in a food processor briefly until the pieces resemble rice (or keep chopping if you don’t have a food processor). Do not over process or you will have mush. Place cauliflower in large mixing bowl and add the turmeric, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and toss. Stir in vegetables and herbs. Chill.
100g fresh turmeric, juiced, or finely grated and strained
100mL fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons raw honey water
Juice the turmeric and the limes. Mix with honey. Add cold or warm water to your desired dilution. Stir and drink!
This is a centuries-old Indonesian recipe for a jamu, or healthy elixir. Throughout Indonesia jamu gendong (those who, literally, carry medicinal drinks) wake up early in the morning to purchase ingredients at a traditional market and prepare their healing tonics. The jamu gendong pour their special liquids into various recycled bottles, cart the tonics in a bamboo basket on their back, and travel a regular route on foot selling their jamu door to door.
Creamy Yellow Salad Dressing
Salads are our favorite food! Toss this dressing with a mixture of salad greens and freshly sliced raw vegetables.
1/2 cup, or 120 mL, sesame oil
1/4 cup, or 90 mL, virgin olive oil
1/4 cup, or 120 mL, apple cider vinegar (replace with white vinegar if necessary)
juice of 2 limes
3 cm piece of turmeric, chopped
1 cm piece of ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tahini (use raw tahini if possible)
1 teaspoon sea salt
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth for a creamy, pourable dressing. If a blender is not available, make sure you have chopped everything quite fine and then whisk with a fork or a wire whisk.
By Avara Yaron
Avara is an entrepreneur and an artist with a passion for uplifting those around her and developing community. Avara has explored life as a writer, filmmaker, painter, counselor, designer and chef. For 17 years she has had a romance with the island of Bali, initially as the manufacturing hub for the line of fine jewelry, handbags and clothing she designed, then as the ideal climate in which to grow her vision of a healthy world through nutritious food. A lifelong foodie, Avara became a raw food chef after falling in love with the power of living foods, leading her to develop a raw food delivery and catering company in southern Oregon. Having discovered the innovative Green School, Avara moved with her daughter, Sofia, to Bali. There she dreamed up, co-founded and currently operates Living Food Lab, with a casual, raw vegan cafe on the grounds of the Green School and another in the secret garden of Hubud, Ubud’s collaborative business space. Through Living Food Lab Academy, Avara shares her enthusiasm for nutrition, her delight in inspiring and connecting with people, and her alchemical wizardry in the kitchen, turning people of all ages on to the power of their food choices. At Living Food Lab there is never a dull moment, whether the crew is catering a party, expanding their product line, or exploring new ways to tantalize your tastebuds. Our modest mission:
Living Food Lab… saving the world one meal at a time!
Conscious food, healthy people, happy planetby