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Actually belonging to zingiberaceae, the same family as ginger, turmeric is native to South and Southeast Asia.

Although multiple parts of the turmeric plant are edible — for example, the leaves can be stuffed with other ingredients and steamed — it’s the rhizome that’s most ubiquitous. It appears similar to ginger and can be used fresh, but it’s most commonly boiled, dried, and then powdered. The resulting powder is a vivid golden yellow and will dye anything it touches, including your hands, at least temporarily. 

Turmeric is especially associated with Indian cuisines, but is also used in various dishes from the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. With a mild earthy flavor, turmeric is most often used in curries, where it also serves as the key ingredient that imparts the distinctive color characteristic of curry dishes. Additionally, turmeric is commonly added to rice dishes, soups and stews, as well as beverages, like golden milk and turmeric tea. Further, its bright color also gives it non-culinary uses, particularly for decorative purposes for in rituals or weddings. 

Lastly, turmeric is traditionally thought to help with low-level digestive discomfort, with the European Medicines Agency recently backing up this long-believed concept. 

You can find fresh turmeric at Uwajimaya in our produce department or next to our other powdered spices.