It is the ground root of a plant related to the ginger family, Turmeric is bright yellow in colour and has a pungent, earthy aroma and taste.
It is used as much for the colour it imparts to a dish as for its flavour.
Turmeric, the spice responsible for curry's yellow hue has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic or traditional Indian , medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Its active ingredient is curcumin which is found in the plant's underground stem and is reputed to have antioxident properties.
A rhizome resembling ginger, turmeric is cooked and ground to a powder. As it contains the properties that give saffron its special hue, turmeric was once referred to as Indian saffron. In Southeast Asia it is used to flavour soups, sauces, salads, lentils, rice, eggs, fish, and crustaceans. It is one of the main ingredients in curry, garam masala, and Indian chutneys. It's used to stimulate appetite, lower cholesterol and treat arthritis, muscle pain, indigestion, liver disease, cancer and HIV infection among other conditions.
Turmeric can stain your hands or work surfaces. You can rub your hands with potato peelings or use bicarbonate of soda and washing up liquid on a stain, leave it for 25 minutes and then rub off.
Traditionally in Indian households turmeric paste is also used as an antiseptic for minor cuts.