Many of the spices that travel half way around the world to our kitchens have been prized for generations, not only for their taste but also for their health-giving properties.
Turmeric is a very good example.
It is a strong coloured root, that looks very similar to the more prevalent root ginger.
It is thinner than ginger but grows in a very similar rhizome way spreading underground and sending shoots up towards the sunlight.
It is sometimes available fresh, but in Ireland it is usually sold dried then ground into a golden powder.
If you do find it fresh, once you cut into the skin of the root you can see the intense brilliant colour inside, it can stain hands and utensils and is what gives most recipes an intense vivid colour.
It most famously gives curry its traditional yellow hue.
Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and a home remedy for many illnesses.
The active ingredient, curcumin, is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, so it helps to consume some cracked black pepper with it.
A tea made with a small spoon of turmeric, a spoon of honey, grated ginger and some black pepper, added to some hot water, is good when you are feeling a little under the weather.
I added a recipe for a turmeric latte here.
It is a hot milky alternative to hot chocolate or chai lattes, and is an ever more popular drink on cafe menus around the world.
I gave this recipe with almond milk but you can use any type of milk.
Among its other interesting uses for dyes and medicines turmeric used to be use in chemistry labs to detect pH levels.
It has now been replaced by litmus paper.
The turmeric paper went more yellow in acidic and neutral solutions and turned brown to reddish-brown in alkaline solutions.
Turmeric gives simple boiled white rice a beautiful golden colour when added to the cooking water.
Here I included a dish that uses golden raisins, nuts and honey roasted carrots, which combined, look great.
The brownie recipe is not a traditional one, as any regular baker will notice at first glance, and if I am honest they will not be to everyone’s liking.
This is a recipe I use when people have dietary restrictions.
It is really satisfying to be able to create a treat for someone who usually can not order cake or dessert.
This recipe has neither wheat, dairy or processed sugar, so it ticks a lot of boxes.
Without the sugar it will never have the smooth shiny surface associated with a traditional brownie but this a great recipe to have for those who are a little more restricted in their choices and it does taste good, especially if you get a good coco and a nice crunchy peanut butter.
SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND
1½ tsp of peeled and finely grated turmeric
3 tsp of honey
A pinch of cracked black pepper
1 cup almond milk
Blitz the turmeric with the honey and a quarter of the almond milk. Add the pinch of cracked black pepper.
Heat the remaining milk and blitz the two together.
500g sweet potato
60 mls honey
1 tbs date syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
60 mls sunflower oil
33g cocoa powder
66g ground almonds
a pinch of sea salt
1/3 tsp baking powder
Cut the sweet potato into chunks, boil them in some water and then drain completely.
Mash them up.
Mix the eggs, honey, and vanilla and add the oil and date syrup slowly.
Then stir in the mashed sweet potatoes.
Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet mixture.
Stir until combined.
Line an eight inch square tin and spoon the mixture in.
If you wish, you can swirl a dollop of peanut butter into the mixture so there is a nice ripple affect and/or sprinkle with some chopped nuts.
Bake at 180 degrees, and test the brownies after 15 minutes to see if they are done but they will likely take about 20 minutes.
QUICK MID-WEEK MEALS
a thumb size piece of ginger, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 sticks of lemon grass, bashed, chopped top of stalks discarded
4 spring onions, chopped
2 tsp of turmeric
2 tbs of rapeseed oil
noodles for four
180g fried tofu puffs
a large handful of frozen peas
a large stalk of broccoli, broken into florets
1 tin of coconut milk
200 mls of stock
a bunch of coriander chopped
½ red chilli sliced, optional
Put the ginger, garlic, lemon grass, spring onions, turmeric, and oil into a blender and blitz until a smooth taste. Season.
Put the noodles on to boil in lightly salted water and drain when cooked.
Heat a little more oil and quickly stir-fry the broccoli, peas, and tofu over a high heat. Stir in the paste and coat the veg.
Add the coconut milk and stock and allow to bubble for about five minutes.
Scoop the sauce and vegetables over the noodles and sprinkle with coriander and chilli if you are using.
zest and juice of an orange
4 carrots, cut into batons
3 tsp of honey
1 tsp of smoked paprika
a dash of rapeseed oil
basmati rice for four, 4 handfuls while dry
1 tsp of black mustard seeds
2 tsp of cumin seeds
2 small onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ a red chilli, sliced
2 tsp of turmeric, either grated from the root or powdered
a large handful of golden raisins
a large handful of cashew nuts, toasted
a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
Toss the carrots in the juice and zest, the honey, paprika and a little oil and seasoning.
Place on a baking tray and roast in a medium oven until soft and golden.
Put the rice with a spoon of turmeric on to boil in lightly salted water and drain when cooked.
Toast the mustard and cumin seeds until they start giving off an aroma. Set aside.
Heat a dash of oil and sauté the onion until it begins to turn translucent, add garlic, chilli and turmeric and stir fry for three minutes.
Stir in the rice and toasted nuts, golden raisins and carrots, making sure to use all the juices from the carrots.
Taste and season and sprinkle with parsley.
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