Turmeric is an ancient spice, its documented usage dating back to 4000 years. It was used as a coloring agent in an Assyrian herbal preparations dating back to 600 BCE. It was a major spice to the Vedic culture in India. It was used in religious rites in ancient India and China. It is still used in Hindu religious rituals in India.. Both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines use turmeric for the treatment of inflammatory and digestive disorders. During the middle ages, because of its color turmeric was known as Indian saffron in Europe.
Turmeric powder is produced from the tuberous rhizomes of the perennial plant curuma longa, belonging to the ginger family. Turmeric grows in the tropics and sub tropics. The plant requires a hot, moist environment and a fairly light soil. The harvested rhizomes are boiled, dried and their rough skins removed and then powdered to make turmeric powder. It is usually sold ground, as a bright yellow, fine powder. The exception is South East Asia, where fresh spice is much preferred to the dried. India is the leading producer as well as consumer of turmeric. India is also the largest exporter of turmeric to the Middle East, the UK, USA and Japan.
Turmeric is an essential spice in Indian cuisine. This warm and aromatic spice with bitter undertones is also used extensively in Southeast Asian and Middle-Eastern cuisines. In Indian cuisine turmeric is added to nearly every dish, be it non- vegetarian or vegetarian. It has a bright yellow color that imparts an orange yellow hue to curries. Excessive use will result in slightly bitter taste. The powder maintains its coloring properties indefinitely though its flavor tend diminish over time. Turmeric powder should be kept in an airtight container and stored in a cool dry place.