Turmeric has been an integral of Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine for over 4000 years. It’s golden yellow color, earthy pungent flavor and humbly aromatic scent gives new life to whatever it’s added to. Though its origins are linked to India, uses of various forms of turmeric have been found across different parts of Asia and even North Africa.
The word Turmeric perhaps originates from the Latin word Terra Meritta, which means sacred soil or merited earth. And indeed it is sacred. The official botanical name is Curcuma longa. Interestingly, the word Curcuma is rooted back to the Sanskrit word Kumkum or Kunkuma. Today, Kumkum is mainly used as a dye in traditional Hindu and Vedic rituals and ceremonies. The core ingredients of the traditional kumkum are turmeric, saffron and limestone. The Ayurvedic name for turmeric is Haridra, which evolved into Haldi in Hindi, Haldar in Gujarati, Halad in Marathi and Halodhi in Bengali.
One of the many reasons why turmeric has maintained its popularity around the world is because of circumin, the palliative compound that gives turmeric its antibiotic potency. Modern medical research shows that circumin can be useful in treatment of various cancers, diseases and viruses. Ayurvedic medicine has recognized these benefits thousands of years ago and developed many oral, topical and inhalant treatments using turmeric.
The modern and trendy Turmeric Latte derives its origins from Manjal Paal, which is Tamil for Turmeric Milk. A common winter staple in India, this drink is a an home-grown remedy for the common cold, digestion, joint pains and a natural sleep aid.
While the recipe may seem simple and basic, there’s science behind the sweet yet spicy drink. The curcumin in turmeric is poorly absorbed by our bodies. But when combined with other similar enhancing compounds, the benefits significantly rise.
One such compound is piperine, a major active component of black pepper. When both are combined, the benefits go up nearly 2000%, according to many nutrition researchers.
Hence the more traditional recipes of Manjal Paal or Haldi Doodh or Turmeric Latte call for black pepper and other earthy and fragrant spices. Here’s a simple recipe that is perfect for staying healthy and rooted (pun intended) while in quarantine.
Recipe for 1 cup
1 Tsp Turmeric
1 Cup Milk (Oat or Nut milks for vegan option)
1/4 TSP Ghee (coconut oil for vegan option)
1/4 TSP Fresh chopped Ginger
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Chinese 5 spice blend
1 TSP Chopped nuts (whatever you have available or like)
1/2 TSP Brown Sugar (optional)
1/4 cup water
In a small sauce pan, heat up the ghee on medium-low
Add in Ginger and chopped nuts along with ground black pepper and 5 spice blend
Saute for about 3-5 minutes until ginger is slightly translucent
Add in Turmeric powder and stir for about 1 minute or until it turns into a toasted dark yellow
Pour in water and milk and turn the heat up to medium
Add Brown Sugar or sweetener of your choice
Bring to a rolling boil and stir occasionally
Transfer all to a blender blend until ginger and nuts are fully liquefied
Pour into a mug and garnish with 5 spice blend