Turmeric: The Aromatic Plant

Wondering where the famous Turmeric came from?

Turmeric is an aromatic medicinal plant that is from Indians since ancient times. Records say, turmeric was grown in the forest regions of Java, Indonesia as early as 5th century AD. There are Sanskrit texts belong to 5 and 6th centuries AD describe the uses of turmeric.

Turmeric is famous in different names across the world. Some say, the name is from the Latin word Terra Meritta which means “sacred soil”. Also, the word Turmeric comes from its metallic look. And is famous as Saffron in many parts of the world.

Turmeric is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows up to 1 meter tall. The leaves are alternate and arranged in two rows. They are into leaf sheath, petiole, and leaf blade.  The rhizomes are the most used part of the plant as cooking ingredient, medicine, and color dye. Although, the leaves and the stems are use for many purposes.

Turmeric is an aromatic medicinal plant that has 40 different genres and 400 species. The most common varieties of Turmeric are Curcumin longa, Curcuma aromatica, curcuma amada, curcuma algustifolia, curcucuma zidoria.

Turmeric, an aromatic plant, become useful in ancient times.

By how turmeric is useful in ancient times? First, the turmeric become useful in ancient times through oleoresin extracted from it in cooking to give attractive colors to the dishes. The resin is of thick oily in nature and is deep brown in color. The oleoresin contains 30-40% curcumin and 15-20% curcumin oil.

Second, in many Indian communities, Turmeric has become part of rituals and ceremonies. Such as related to fertility and well-being for human beings and nature. Therefore, many Indian traditions believe that Turmeric is a “divine plant” given to human beings by Gods.

Third, daily intake of turmeric is something almost every Indian tradition recommends. To control for the prevention of many-body disorders and diseases. 

Fourth, in Indian culture, the importance of turmeric goes far beyond medicine. The Hindu religion sees turmeric as auspicious and sacred. While in parts of southern India, they wear a piece of the turmeric rhizome. It is use as an amulet for protection against evil spirits.

Also, the vibrant yellow coloring of turmeric is also use to dye clothing and thread for centuries. While, a state in southwest India, they give children turmeric-dyed clothing to wear during the Onam festival. The reason for this is unclear, although it is likely has to do with the color’s association with Lord Krishna.

Most of us are familiar with turmeric as a cooking spice. It appeared in Hannah Glasse’s 1747 cookbook, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. Hannah shares a recipe for India pickle made with turmeric. Later edition calls for turmeric in a recipe for Indian curry. Around this time, commercial curry powders became available.