Haldi (Turmeric), a plant in the ginger family, is native to Southeast Asia and is grown commercially in that region, primarily in India. Its rhizome (underground stem) is used as a culinary spice and traditional medicine.
Historically, turmeric was used in Ayurveda and other traditional Indian medical systems, as well as Eastern Asian medical systems such as traditional Chinese medicine. In India, it was traditionally used for disorders of the skin, upper respiratory tract, joints, and digestive system.
Today, turmeric is promoted as a dietary supplement for a variety of conditions, including arthritis, digestive disorders, respiratory infections, allergies, liver disease, depression, and many others.
Turmeric is a common spice and a major ingredient in curry powder. Curcumin is a major component of turmeric, and the activities of turmeric are commonly attributed to curcuminoids (curcumin and closely related substances). Curcumin gives turmeric its yellow color.
Turmeric dietary supplements are made from the dried rhizome and typically contain a mixture of curcuminoids. Turmeric is also made into a paste for skin conditions.
Turmeric is one of the key ingredients in many Asian dishes, imparting a mustard-like, earthy aroma and pungent, slightly bitter flavor to foods.
It is used mostly in savory dishes, but also is used in some sweet dishes, such as the cake sfouf. In India, turmeric leaf is used to prepare special sweet dishes, patoleo, by layering rice flour and coconut-jaggery mixture on the leaf, then closing and steaming it in a special utensil.
Most turmeric is used in the form of rhizome powder to impart a golden yellow color.
It is used in many products such as canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn color, cereals, sauces, and gelatin. It is a principal ingredient in curry powders. Although typically used in its dried, powdered form, turmeric also is used fresh, like ginger. It has numerous uses in East Asian recipes, such as a pickle that contains large chunks of fresh soft turmeric.