Turmeric, curcumin, cumin and curry powder

If you, like me, are confused about the difference between turmeric, curcumin, cumin and curry powder, this post should help…

Let’s start with turmeric.  Turmeric, also known as Indian saffron, is a plant in the ginger family, native to southeast Asia and India.  It has a bitter but warm taste and is often used to color and flavor butters, cheeses, mustards and curry powders.  Although the leaves are used to wrap and cook food  in areas where it is grown, it is the rhizomes of the turmeric plant that are ground into a powder used around the world to color and flavor food.

The root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine to treat conditions such as heartburn, gallbladder disorders, diabetes, arthritis, stomach pain, headaches, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel disease, lung infections, menstrual problems, depression, water retention, bronchitis, kidney infections, colds, fibromyalgia, skin inflammations, as well as both fungal and bacterial infections.  Current research is hoping to prove that turmeric is also effective against cancer.


Curcumin is the main component of turmeric rhizomes that imparts the typical bright yellow color.

Cumin is the dried seeds of a herb in the parsley family, mainly grown in India as well as other tropical and subtropical, frost-free areas around the world.  The seeds are used ground or whole as a spice to give flavor and aroma to food.


Curry powder is a spice blend containing primarily turmeric, cumin, coriander and chili pepper.  A similar blend of spices is called garam masala in south Asia.  Some commercial blends of curry powder also contain ginger, garlic, fennel seed, mustard seed, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper and or cinnamon.



Well, I learned the difference between turmeric, curcumin, cumin and curry powder while researching this post.  I hope it was helpful.  Try some of theses spices soon to add flavor and color to your cooking while preventing or treating many health issues at the same time.


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12 thoughts on “Turmeric, curcumin, cumin and curry powder

  1. I think that galangal (used a lot in Thai cooking) and also ginger are also rhizomes and, I think, related to turmeric which with ginger is used a lot in some traditional South African cooking.

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