Turmeric Milk: Not Just A Pretty Spice

December 7, 2011

in Memory, Recipe, Spice

turmeric milkTurmeric. I love everything about this spice: its brilliant yellow orange color, its deliciously pungent smell, its slightly bitter taste, its ability to add a pop of color to everything it touches and I love the way it lyrically rolls off my tongue. Tur-mer-ric.

Growing up in an Indian household, I was introduced to turmeric at a very early age. As a kid, it showed up in almost all my meals and in the form of a dot placed on my forehead by the Hindu priest after prayers. Around puberty, it showed up in a skincare cream that promised a glowing blemish-free face and it delivered (see awesome 80s ad below). In college, it made its presence known in my suitcase when it accidentally tie-dyed my clothes. At our wedding, it made an appearance in the form of a tiny cone-like structure to represent Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles.

turmericA year ago, its absence was made known when my husband, a man who started out with a pantry of 3 crusty dusty spices, unexpectedly yelled out in disbelief “We’re out of turr-merr-rrick??!!”, as he gathered the ingredients for his spicy salmon recipe. He was devastated and I was pleased. Mission accomplished. A cook was born.

But, the most vivid memory I have of turmeric was when I was 10 and battling a cough. An aunt, who had recently found her calling as a self-taught Ayurvedic healer, dipped a cotton swab into a small pot of turmeric and honey, and swirled it in my mouth coating the back of my sore throat. When she first suggested it, I was curious and excited; curious of this mystic healing power she possessed in her little cotton wand and excited for the story I would get to tell of me as the girl with a golden throat.

It was nasty! I gagged. I coughed up fire. Smoke billowed from my mouth. It felt horrible but I’m pretty sure it cured my sore throat.

Years later, I read that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is considered to be a potent antioxidant and antiseptic in Eastern and Western medicine, and that adding black pepper enhances these healing properties. It has numerous medicinal benefits, some of which include being a stomach soother, a powerful anti-inflammatory, a natural antiseptic for wounds and a liver cleanser. My torturing aunt was on to something!


She also introduced me to another cure for sore throats and winter blues – warm milk with turmeric and honey. It is deliciously creamy, mildly spicy, perfectly soothing and, thankfully, painless.

With winter and flu season around the corner, I think it’s time to resurrect this recipe with almond milk. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I’d also love to hear about the ways you use this incredible spice.

For a bite-sized description of turmeric check out Short & Spicy: Turmeric.


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