Indian Spices: Turmeric, Curcumin, Cumin, and Curry Powder

Indian spices

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

Turmeric

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.

Personally, to take advantage of the amazing health benefits, I use turmeric in my custom smoothies every morning.

Curcumin

Curcumin is the main component of turmeric rhizomes that imparts the typical bright yellow color.  It stains everything it touches, so be warned! That’s about the only downside of this wonderful, healthy spice though.

Cumin

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. I add ground cumin to soups, stews, stir-frys, and more. Once you learn and appreciate the unique taste, you can use your imagination to decide where it should be added.

Indian spices

Curry Powder

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.

Curry powder is very convenient as it contains most of the other Indian spices mentioned in one bottle. I add it to soups, stews, sauces, etc, even devilled eggs! Once again, use your imagination to add this unique flavour to just about anything.

Indian spices

Well, I learned the difference between these Indian spices (turmeric, curcumin, cumin, and curry powder) while researching this post.  I hope it was helpful.  Try some of these 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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