Turmeric seems to be big news at the moment, wherever you turn there seems to be somebody telling you that it’s the new superfood.
I think all this hype about superfoods is totally over the top. In this morning’s daily paper; if I was to believe everything I read about the health giving properties of food, I would be lunching on Raw garlic Blueberries, Sweet potatoes, Chicken soup, Almonds, Bone broth (what is chicken Soup I ask) Yoghurt, Cauliflower and Manuka Honey (Read in same paper last week that Manuka tests were inconclusive as to its health giving claims) etc etc
I was in the gastro heaven which is Whole Foods in Cheltenham last weekend and succumbed to buying a couple of knobs of fresh turmeric. Just in case all the claims are true.
I also bought some on Amazon as I used all the wholefoods turmeric up in one hit. Amazon have it in a variety of weights and prices, the link below sells 100g at the price shown and free postage
Here are some of the latest health claims: Just so you know how healthy we are all going to be if we start eating Turmeric en masse: It is supposed to be a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, improve brain function and also lower heart disease and perhaps even treat cancer. Oh and if that isn’t enough I also found a web site saying that it is a new cure for Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and depression.
Nobody is confirming how much of the stuff you're supposed to eat and also how often. So let's not get too serious about this and think that if we eat turmeric throughout the week we are all going to become miraculously healthy.
On a more serious note, you can actually buy turmeric capsules. There have been scientific studies done to prove that turmeric has to be cooked with oils in order to release any health giving properties so there you have it, the latest health low down on Turmeric!
Now onto the food bit!
Fresh turmeric is very similar to ginger in look, other than it is smaller and orange yellow in colour. It has very little smell and the raw bulb doesn’t really taste of much. Like its powder counterpart, fresh turmeric stains. It stains chopping boards, knives, cookware, even my kitchen sinks needed some bleach to get rid of the stains, the dishcloth was a total write-off and my hands look like I have a 50 a day habit.
Chickpeas are one of my constant favourites in the store cupboard.
They are cheap, nutritious; contain fibre, versatile, flavourful and crunchy. They come in a variety of guises, one being chickpea flour or gram flour or besan as it is also known. I will not be talking about chickpea flour today.
What I am working with today is the whole chickpea. These come either dried or in tins. I never buy chickpeas in tins because I’ve never found their flavours to be representative of anything like dried chickpeas which when soaked for 24 hours in a lot of water and a little bit of bicarbonate of soda become a really nice tasty item to use. Dried chickpeas are a lot cheaper than tinned chickpeas probably one bag of dried chickpeas will create four tins of bought chickpeas. See the link above for a suggestion again from amazon.
So with the turmeric and the chick peas ready to go what should I cook? One of my favourite dishes and one that I use to cook quite regularly on Saint Helena because all ingredients were available although over there it was dried turmeric.
This curry is incredibly tasty, cheap, easy to make.
It lasts two to three days in the refrigerator, will freeze easily and can be used to accompany anything from baked salmon to breast of chicken to part of an Indian meal. The quantity here will produce enough for around 8 starter/side or 4 main portions
250 grams of dried chickpeas & 1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 teaspoons of whole cumin seeds
2 onions peeled and chopped
Two large cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
Large knob of Ginger around 5 to 60 grams finely chopped
50 to 60 g Fresh Turmeric finely chopped or one-and-a-half teaspoons of dried turmeric
Half a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper or other chili powder I used Chipotle which is smoked Jalapeno and delicious
Two tins of chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons of garam masala, home made is best!
1 teaspoon of amchoor powder or (dried mango powder) or half a lemon or half a lime
2 to 4 teaspoons of salt to taste
THE DAY BEFORE...................Add Bicarbonate of soda to around a litre of water (water should be at least 4 times the volume of the dried chickpeas. Soak the dried chickpeas overnight.
Next day cook the chickpeas by bringing a pan of water to the boil and then adding them to it. Let the water return to the boil and turn the heat down to simmer. Skim any scum that forms in the pan. The chick peas should cook within around 30 to 40 minutes. They will take longer if the soaking time was less than 24 hours or the Chick Peas were old.
Garnish the dish with chopped fresh coriander chopped fresh mint and natural yoghurt.
I did not have natural yoghurt today so I just used cottage cheese which added not only the coolness of the yoghurt but it also an element of savouriness and some richness. In fact it’s something that I will now use with my Currys as well as using natural yoghurt
The photograph is the actual curry that I made today with mint and coriander garnish and the cottage cheese.
It just goes to show you do not always need absolutely everything in your store cupboard that appears on a recipe. If you look and choose the most similar item you can still come up with a delicious meal.
I really recommend this easy chickpea curry it’s something that you will love. Just watch out for the yellow stains and the healthy feeling from eating all that Turmeric!