Garlic Turmeric Oil: A Burmese Golden Treasure

Garlic Turmeric Oil

Garlic turmeric oil is, without a doubt, my favorite condiment. The recipe for this fragrant oil flavored with crispy fried garlic and spicy turmeric made it’s way to my kitchen through my father, who was born and brought up in Burma – now known as Myanmar and often called “The Golden Land”.

Shwedagon Pagoda - Burma

If you ask my father about his favorite memory, he will tell you about a ritual he had as a child. Every morning, he would roll out of bed and walk down the long corridor from his bedroom to the living room. There he would perch himself in front of the large bay windows that overlooked the 2500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda – the “Golden Pagoda”. He’ll tell you how this gilded temple dominated the skyline of his city of Rangoon, how it was the most peaceful sight he had ever seen, and how it always made him feel like he was home.

His ritual sadly ended in the early 1960s when the Burmese army overthrew the government and forced many immigrant families, including my father’s, to leave the country. They relocated to India and ever since have proudly referred to themselves as “Burmese Indian”.

Rice Noodles with Garlic Turmeric Oil

Growing up, I would hear Burmese words effortlessly slipped into conversations my father had with his parents; I would be told of all of his adventures of growing up in Burma; and our meals were flavored with Burmese ingredients like coconut milk, tamarind, dried shrimp, roasted gram flour and this indispensable garlic turmeric oil.

Many years later, as I garnish my dishes with this golden oil in my Brooklyn kitchen, I am instantly connected to a generation of memories and a land I have yet to visit. I am also reminded of the family I have who are now spread across the world, and who stay connected to each other and our shared history by recipes like this one.

I have now equipped you with a Midas touch that I’ll use in many of my upcoming recipes like steamed fish, papaya salad and ramen noodles. Until then, you can simply garnish sliced tomatoes for a quick garlicky salad or mix it in with plain soba or rice noodles and serve as an addictive side dish. Or just put it on everything like I do! Write to me and let me know how you like to eat it.

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, "Golden Rock" - Burma

© Lech Magnuszewski

PS: Another golden treasure I hope to see when I visit Burma is the magnificent Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, also called “Golden Rock”. It is a stupa, a Buddhist shrine, that rests on a large boulder which is covered in gold leaf and seems to defy gravity, since it is perched on the edge of a cliff on the Kyaiktiyo Hill. Legend says that the rock keeps its balance and does not roll down because it rests on one single hair of Buddha.

~ Anjali

A printable list of ingredients and directions are at the end of this post,
along with an image of this Perfect Morsel.

Garlic for Garlic Turmeric Oil

Peel and finely chop garlic.

Garlic in Oil

Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add chopped garlic when oil is hot. TIP: You can tell if it is hot enough by gently dropping in a piece of garlic. If it sizzles, the oil it hot enough.

Garlic, Turmeric, Red Chili in Oil

Stir garlic. When it begins to turn golden brown, add turmeric and red chili.

Garlic Turmeric Oil, cooling

Stir for another minute and remove pan from stove. Allow to cool.

Rice Noodles Garnished with Garlic Turmeric Oil

Garnish sliced tomatoes for a quick garlicky salad or mix it in with plain rice noodles and serve as an addictive side dish. Or just put it on everything like I do!


  1. Moni Malhotra says

    You are really adept at making a recipe taste delicious and garnished with refreshingly entertaining and interesting anecdotes drawn from the past. Loved viewing my favourite Shwedagon Pagoda. Incidentally, Shwe in Burmese language means gold. Love you. Dad

  2. rashmi from says

    I love reading your posts! You need to write more often. I have never had the golden oil but crispy garlic and then on top of it, flavored crispy garlic – you cannot go wrong! I think I will make some this weekend.

    • says

      Thank you, Rashmi! So glad this sounds scrumptious to you. I hope to start writing more often very soon especially since I have so many stories/recipes to share. Let me know how you like the oil and how you use it. Enjoy!


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