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Home > Types of Spices > Roots > Turmeric
Turmeric root
Turmeric rootBotanical name:Curcuma longa Linn.
Curcuma domestica Val.
Curcuma aromatica Linn.
Family name:Zingiberaceae.

Indian names are as follows:
Hindi:Haldi
Bengali:Halud, Pitarus
Gujarati:Haldhar, Haldi
Kannada:Arishina
Konkani:Halad
Malayalam:Manjal
Marathi:Halad, Halede
Meitei:Yaingang
Oriya:Haladi
Punjabi:Haldar, Haldhar, Haldi
Sanskrit:Haladi, Haridra, Harita
Tamil:Manjal
Telugu:Pasupu
Urdu:Haladi.

Turmeric is one of the most popular spices of India. It is also popular as medicine popularly used as part of home remedy. Almost in every dish prepared in India Turmeric is added. Further, it is also regarded by the Hindus as something `sacred` for use in ceremonial and religious functions. The spice Turmeric or Haldi consists of the dried, boiled, cleaned and polished rhizomes (the underground swollen stem of the plant) of Turmeric plant.

Under the genus Curcuma, to which turmeric belongs, the botanists have so far recognized 30 varieties. Of these, Curcuma longa is economically the most important accounting for about 96.4% of the total area under turmeric and the remaining 3.6% of the total area are cultivated under Curcuma aromatica, which is mostly grown in small areas in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Curing of raw turmeric rhizomes freshly dug out of earth is essential both for the development of the attractive yellow color, mostly due to a pigment called curcumin, and characteristic aroma, as without it turmeric`s lacks demand. The fingers and bulbs are boiled separately in water for half an hour until froth and white fumes appear. They are then drained and dried in the sun for 10 to 15 days until they become dry and hard. At this stage, the fingers produce a metallic sound, when broken in hand. They are then cleaned and polished mechanically in a drum rotated by hand or by power. Improved method of curing has been developed by CFTRI, Mysore which ensures better quality of end product.

Most of the turmeric produced in India is utilized as condiment. Only a small fraction is used in medicine, cosmetics and in dyeing of textile. The quality attributes of the commercial produce are its appearance in color, maturity, bulk density, length and thickness, intensity of color of the core and aroma etc. Turmeric produced in different areas is known by various local names. There are 16 such local varieties. Besides, the AGMARK Grades have been framed for (i) Turmeric fingers, (ii) Bulbs and (iii) Powder, separately both for export and for internal trade.

TurmericTurmeric has the following composition:
Moisture:5.8%
Protein:8.6%
Fat:8.9%
Carbohydrates:63.0%
Fiber:6.9%
Total ash:6.8%
Calcium:0.2%
Phosphorus:0.26%
Iron:0.05%
Sodium:0.01`%
Potassium:2.5%
Vitamin A (carotene):175 I.U./100 gram
Vitamin B1:0.09 mg/100 gram
Vitamin B2:0.19 mg/100 gram
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid):49.8 mg/100 gram
Niacin:4.8 mg/100 gram.
Calorific value (food energy): 390 calories/100 grams.

By steam distillation of crushed turmeric tubers volatile oil of orange yellow color can be extracted. Occasionally it is found to be slightly fluorescent with an odor reminiscent of tubers. The dried rhizomes yield 5 to 6%, while fresh ones give 0.24% essential oil. About 58% of the oil composed of turmerones (sesquiterpene ketones) and 9% tertiary alcohols.

Oleoresin can be extracted from ground turmeric by solvent extraction followed by vacuum concentration. It is in great demand by the food and pharmaceutical industries abroad.

During WTO regime this is one of the herbs that created debate under Intellectual Properties Right. Some firms in the USA patented the virtues of this herb creating controversies. Even those virtues, which were in application in India and many third world countries, were patented. Fortunately the case was fought in proper forum and this day light legal robbery was foiled.

Turmeric PlantTurmeric is a unique, colorful and versatile natural plant product combining the properties of a spice or flavorant, colorant as brilliant yellow dye, as a cosmetic, as a source of medicine useful in a number of diseases. These virtues are discussed briefly below.

In India and other Asian countries, use of turmeric is mostly popular as food adjunct in many vegetable, meat and fish preparations. Turmeric not only adds to taste, flavor and color of the dish but also, it is believed that it preserves the food. Moreover, due to its medicinal virtues, by consuming turmeric regularly with food in any form, it prevents many diseases. Turmeric, by dint of its aromatic oil content, flavors foodstuffs, acts as an appetizer and adds digestion.

It is also used to color liquor, fruit drinks, cakes and table jellies. It is used to flavor and at the same time color butter, cheese, margarine, pickles, mustard and other foodstuffs.

Before use of chemical dye was introduced, turmeric was commonly used in India for dyeing wool, silk and cotton to impart yellow shade, in an acid bath. It is still used for dyeing cotton. The use of natural dye is now being encouraged due to craze created in global market. However, yellow dye from turmeric has one major lacuna. Though there is washing fastness, it lacks in light fastness. The dye is also employed as coloring material in pharmacy, confectionery, rice milling and food industry. Considerable quantities of turmeric are converted as `Kumkum` used in Tilak. A diluted tincture of turmeric is suitable for use as a fluorescence ind8icator even in brown and yellow solutions.

Turmeric has been traditionally regarded as important source of medicine. It is said to be anti-oxidant, due to the phenolic character of curcuma. It is considered useful both for internal and external applications. It is considered useful for cancer patients. It is a stomachic, carminative, tonic, blood purifier, vermicide, and an antiseptic. It is taken with warm milk to act as expectorant. Mixed with lime it is applied externally to get relief from sprains and pains. It is used as an inhalation from boiling water or smoked through pipe to get relief from sore throat and congestion.

In small pox, it is applied as paste with gingerly oil and neem leaves. The juice of raw rhizome is used an anti-parasitic for many skin affections. Burnt turmeric is used as tooth powder to relieve dental troubles.

Vicco TurmericTurmeric is considered as excellent natural cosmetics. Smearing turmeric paste on the face and limbs during the bath is found to clear the skin and beautify the face. Many cosmetics are now available in the market manufactured using turmeric as one of the ingredients.

Turmeric has been used worldwide since very ancient times. Several unique properties of the Indian turmeric make it an ideal choice as a food flavor. It also finds use in the preparation of liquors, dyestuffs, medicines, cosmetics and toiletries. It is used as natural colorant. The curcumin present in turmeric imparts its distinctive yellow color. In beauty care, women have used turmeric paste since very ancient times. Today it finds use as an antiseptic and an antitanning. It prevents and cures pigmentation, making skin translucent and glowing. It cools and smoothes the skin. It is used to purify blood. It also helps in protecting the skin from water allergy.
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