The great thing about a foodie’s life is that one is constantly making new discoveries… and not just in the form of a new cuisine or ingredient, but often also about the culture or philosophy behind it.
Well, a recent food trend which took me a bit by surprise is the current craze for golden milk. Otherwise known as haldi doodh…
As is the case with most Indian kids, I grew up on this warming turmeric-based concoction as the answer to any and every ailment. Although, it has to be said that the hipster versions found at the trendy healthy hangouts of today are a touch more luscious than the medicinal drinks we were made to guzzle!
At Deliciously Ella’s Mae Deli for instance, turmeric lattes are whipped up with coconut milk and/ or coconut oil for a more smooth and creamy texture, while a lighter almond milk-base is quite typical too (a far cry from the full-fat buffalo milk liberally used during our childhood days).
A comforting kick of cinnamon and ginger – with a pinch of black pepper – is never amiss either, such as at Parcafé – the quietly elegant cafe at the Dorchester.
According to Google, turmeric is one of the most searched food-terms in recent times (along with jackfruit; cauliflower rice; sourdough bread; funfetti and vegan doughnuts, in case you were wondering) – it’s significant anti-inflammatory properties, a key reason behind the sudden shine taken to this “golden spice” from the ginger family.
In reality, the benefits of turmeric are far more wide-reaching and include its potential to decrease the risk of cancer, control diabetes and improve cognitive functioning. What I find really interesting, is that in some cases as little as 50 mg of turmeric (the equivalent of roughly 1/50th of a teaspoon) over a span of several months have been demonstrated to have health benefits!
Tracing its roots back all the way back to 3000 B.C., the bright yellow powder lends itself to a whole host of applications, from medicinal and religious purposes to dyeing/ colouring and cosmetic uses. In fact, Indian weddings are always preceded by a ‘haldi ceremony’, in which family and close friends gather, taking it in turns to apply a haldi paste to the bride and groom – an aromatic mixture of turmeric, sandalwood powder and rose water.
The act is symbolic of blessings, aimed at purifying the couple and protecting them from any bad omen or harm… The auspicious note aside, it’s also quite pragmatic in that it works to beautify the bride before her big day, as the antiseptic nature of haldi helps prevent acne, while also acting as a natural exfoliator to reveal that inner glow!
Of course, turmeric remains one of the most essential ingredients in an Indian kitchen, releasing a warm and earthy flavour to everyday cooking whilst also imparting its distinctive yellow hue to colour the food.
But the recent surge in interest in this humble spice means that there are now a multitude of creative recipes, shining new light on how turmeric can be used to season dishes as varied as tofu and lamb! I’ve bookmarked the following recipe by Adria Wu for a winter-warming start to my day…
TURMERIC MAPLE PUMPKIN PORRIDGE
– Adria Wu of Maple & Fitz
You will need:
- 3 small culinary pumpkins (optional: 2 for serving, 1 for puree)
- 120g whole oats, toasted
- 50g pumpkin seeds, toasted, plus extra for garnish (optional: use seeds from pumpkin and toast)
- 1 pinch flaked sea salt
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch cardamom
- 700-900 ml water
- 10g fresh turmeric, grated (or 1/4 tsp dried turmeric)
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1-2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
- 2 pinches flaked sea salt
- 2 tbsp dried cranberries 1 red apple, sliced
- Fennel Oil
- 1 whole fennel bulb
- 125ml olive oil
- 1/4 tsp flaked sea salt 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- Pre-heat oven 180C. Cut opening in pumpkin along the top and spoon out seeds. Roast pumpkin whole on baking tray for 12-15 mins until cooked through. Keep 2 for serving. Spoon the cooked flesh from last pumpkin and puree using hand blender. Set aside.
- Toast oats and pumpkin seeds on a wide pan on medium high heat for 5 mins stirring continuously then for another 1 minute with salt and spices.
- Add water, turmeric, maple syrup, salt and thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and slowly simmer for 10-20 mins until oats are creamy, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pan (add more water if needed). When ready add pumpkin puree and heat through.
- Serve in edible pumpkin bowls and garnish with cranberries, apples and more thyme and pumpkin seeds.
- Wash fennel and slice into 2 cm thick slices.
- In a deep pot, sautee fennel with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt on high heat for 3 minutes, then add remaining oil, bring to a boil then simmer on medium for 10 mins. Take off heat and add fennel seeds while hot. Infuse overnight then strain using a sieve.
- Store the fennel-infused oil in a closed container in your refrigerator.
Have you experimented with turmeric in your cooking recently?