Add some turmeric to your potatoes

Published 12:43 am Saturday, October 22, 2016

I wrote an article on turmeric in June, 2008 and it seems turmeric has made another resurrection since I have been reading about it lately. It has been called the spice for 2016. It seems you cannot go to a juice bar without them selling turmeric vitality shots, each claiming benefits such as glowing skin, boosted immunity, improved digestion and even a cure for depression. Is any of this true?

1022-cook-and-gardenerTurmeric is the yellow/orange colored rhizome of the perennial herbaceous plant of the same name. It is a cornerstone of Indian cooking and an important ingredient of other Asian cuisines. The plant is a native of India and Southeast Asia, a relative of ginger, though smaller, more like fingerling potatoes. Fresh turmeric can be peeled and sliced or ground to add a pungent, woody, earthy aroma to salads and relishes. We mostly consume turmeric as a powder. The rhizomes are dried until rock hard and then ground. The dried turmeric has a muted flavor compared to the fresh.

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and it is antibacterial, antiviral and can be used on cuts, as a gargle for sore throats, and there is research in using it as an anticancer agent. While curcumin is turmeric’s active ingredient, there is significantly more curcumin in supplement form than the average person would get from ground turmeric itself. All of which is to say that if you want to get the health benefits of turmeric, queuing up at the local juice bar may not be quite enough. There is no evidence that drinking turmeric isn’t helpful, for the optimists out there. I personally think that food is better than pills.

I use turmeric quite a bit but I do a lot of Indian cooking. You can use turmeric in all kinds of ways, in tea with some honey, sprinkled over eggs, in a milkshake, or in a hot milk drink with cardamom and honey.

I found a recipe on the Splendid Table website that used turmeric and almonds. This recipe is a takeoff on a dish from Viana La Place’s The Unplugged Kitchen. The dish was created by Julie Sunhi and she said that if you do no other potato recipe in your lifetime you must try this one! I have done this recipe about five times now and it is so good. It is easy, earthy and could be eaten alone or with a fish or meat. Do not let one drop of the oil from the potatoes and onions go to waste.


Almond Turmeric


Serves 2-3 as a main dish; 4-5 as a first course

Good tasting extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thin sliced

¼ teaspoon turmeric

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1-1/2 to 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, but sliced as thin as possible

2 tablespoons chicken stock or water, and more if needed

1/3 cup sliced almonds or hazelnuts, toasted

Generously film the olive oil over the bottom of a 4-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Set over medium-high heat. Layer in the onions, turmeric, some salt and pepper, the potatoes, and more salt and pepper. Let the mixture cook without stirring until the onions are starting to soften and brown. (About 20 minutes). Don’t stir, but peek under them to look for color.

Add the chicken stock or water, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Again, don’t stir, but shake the pan occasionally, and check to make sure there is still some liquid on the bottom of the pot. Add more liquid as needed. Cook 15-20 minutes until there is a syrupy brown glaze on the bottom of the pan, onions are coloring, and the potatoes are tender. Let them stand, covered 5 minutes.

Taste for seasoning. Just before serving, sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Spoon down to the bottom of the pot to get more of the glaze onto each serving.

The finished potatoes can wait covered in their pot for an hour or more. They are also excellent at room temperature.