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Can You Cook With Turmeric?

by Petra Wakefield, studioD

Despite its bright yellow color, turmeric has a mellow, earthy flavor that won't overwhelm other seasonings in a dish. If your children are attracted to brightly colored foods, you're in luck. Turmeric adds vitamin C, iron and calcium, but won't disturb picky eaters with a strong, unfamiliar flavor. You can add turmeric to meals already in your family's dinner rotation, or branch out and try a simple ethnic dish using turmeric.

Use turmeric in Indian-inspired dishes including meats, seafood, dals and curries. Turmeric appears in almost every Indian dish, and you won't get authentic flavor without it.

Stir a generous pinch of turmeric into rice while it cooks to add bright color and subtle flavor.

Add turmeric to almost any kind of soup or stew, including lentil, bean and potato. Start with a small pinch and add more to taste.

Flavor a stir fry or vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower and cabbage with turmeric. Start with a small amount and increase it gradually to suit your family's taste.

Complement dishes flavored with spices such as black pepper, cumin, ginger, coriander, cilantro or mustard seeds by adding turmeric. If the recipe doesn't include turmeric, start with 1/4 tsp. and add more if needed.

Substitute turmeric for saffron. Though it won't give quite the same flavor, turmeric adds a similar color and is less costly than saffron.

Stir turmeric into a creamy ranch or green onion dip, for an instant Indian-style twist on a raw vegetable platter.


  • Add turmeric to the cooking oil before the main ingredients to impart stronger color and flavor. Add it after the vegetables or meats for a more subtle effect.
  • Use turmeric within four months of purchasing it for the best flavor.


  • Don't add too much turmeric, or the flavor will become bitter and chalky. Start with a small amount and add more if desired, especially when you're first experimenting with it.
  • Turmeric stains fabric, skin and cooking utensils, so keep it away from anything you don't want a stain on.

About the Author

Petra Wakefield is a writing professional whose work appears on various websites, focusing primarily on topics about science, fitness and outdoor activities. She holds a Master of Science in agricultural engineering from Texas A&M University.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images