How to Season With Turmeric

by Rogue Parrish

Items you will need

  • Turmeric
  • Measuring spoons
  • International cookbooks

Turmeric’s bright yellow color and mild, slightly earthy taste add one of the several notes that make curry powder a symphony of flavor. The eye-catching spice plays a major role in cuisines from Morocco to Indonesia. India produces 80 percent of the world’s turmeric, derived from a rhizome similar to ginger root. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is a potent antioxidant and the subject of clinical trials for its potential health benefits. Start by adding a pinch of this powder to everyday meals. Over time, you can explore international dishes that use a tablespoon or more of turmeric as a main seasoning.

Step 1

Add small amounts of turmeric, starting with 1/2 tsp., to omelets, home fries, chicken and butternut squash soups, chili and roasted vegetables such as cauliflower. Increase to 1 tsp. if you like the flavor and color.

Step 2

Include turmeric in dry rubs for meats along with cumin and paprika.

Step 3

Add 1 tsp. of turmeric, along with an equal amount of ground coriander and ground cumin, to frying onions, garlic and ginger as you create a base for Indian recipes such as curry chicken or fish fillets. Add with salt to onions and garlic to create a base for Persian khoreshes, or stews, prior to adding main ingredients such as pomegranate, lamb, beans or chickpeas.

Step 4

Add 1/2 to 1 tsp. of turmeric to directly to bubbling stock bases for Persian and Middle Eastern soups.

Step 5

Dust turmeric on eggplant slices, okra, leg of lamb and meatballs prior to frying or roasting.

Step 6

Mix 1 tsp. of turmeric with a marinade of yogurt, lemon juice, onion, garlic, ginger, paprika, cumin, coriander, garam masala and cayenne to season tandoori chicken.

Step 7

Add 3/4 tsp. of turmeric to 15 oz. of basmati rice, along with three cloves, a 1-inch stick of cinnamon and three bay leaves to create aromatic yellow rice, a recipe found in the international cookbook classic, "Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery." Nasi kuning, an Indonesian yellow rice, follows similar lines but also adds coconut milk, tomatoes and lemongrass.

Step 8

Use 1/4 to 1 tsp. of turmeric in classic international recipes for which it is famous, including Moroccan chicken, Moroccan couscous, Indonesian chicken and lemongrass soup (soto ayam) and Burmese pork. See Tips section for cookbooks that will help you explore ways to use this intriguing seasoning.


  • Build your library of international cookbooks to learn new ways to use turmeric. Useful titles include "Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking," "The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook," "The New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies" and "The Complete Asian Cookbook."


  • Measure turmeric carefully over a work surface, ideally protecting the surface with a bowl or cutting board to avoid staining. Use hydrogen peroxide mixed 50-50 with dish soap to remove stains.


About the Author

An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.