Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Indian Food - Good for your body, good for your taste buds.

Inspired by a visit to Dakshin , a great new Kosher Indian restaurant in NYC, we've been eating some mouth-watering Indian food lately. (UPDATE: Dakshin is no longer Kosher certified) and I can't get enough of the aromatic flavors. The combinations make my taste buds so happy. Just in case keeping my mouth happy is not good enough, the herbs and spices used in Indian cooking have many health benefits. I would like to share some of those benefits. I'm thinking I should start a mini-series, highlighting one spice at a time. I'll pair that with a recipe, and in a few posts, we should have a great collection of beneficial information & new recipes to try. Sounds good?

Let’s start with turmeric. Turmeric is a bright yellow-orange root, somewhat resembling ginger. It is usually purchased dried and ground into a fine powder.
Turmeric is frequently used in both Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine. Curcumin is the active part of turmeric, the component that gives the spice its rich color. Curcumin acts as an antioxidant; it’s a free radical scavenger. That means it binds with free radicals thus preventing them from damaging healthy cells.

Turmeric plays an active role in slowing down the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory properties, making it helpful in fighting inflammatory bowel diseases, (including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), rheumatoid arthritis and cystic fibrosis.

Turmeric has anti spasmodic properties. Used as a digestive aid - it helps to reduce gas, cramping and bloating. It can also help prevent menstrual cramping.
Turmeric stimulates bile production in the liver and can help excrete bile through the gallbladder (which aids the body's ability to digest fats). 

Turmeric is available in a supplement form, but you can achieve the benefits by adding it to your diet.
Turmeric plays a great role in Indian cooking. My family loved this recipe for Lemon Rice.
My in-house photographer is off studying in London. We’ll aim for a photo shoot when he’s home next.

Indian Lemon Rice
seasoning for lemon rice
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 2 small bay leaves (fresh is best)
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
 Rinse the rice and cook in boiling, generously salted water until done, about 20 to 25 minutes. (this is the only salt, so really be generous.) Drain and set aside. In a deep frying pan, cook the mustard seeds, turmeric, ginger, bay leaf* and cumin in olive oil for two minutes – until very fragrant. Toss the bay leaf. Add the rice and mix thoroughly. Add lemon juice and salt. Stir well. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serves 3-4.

This recipe doubles and triples very easily. You don't need to double the amount of bay leaves.
*if you are unable to find fresh bay leaves, add the dry bay leaf to the rice during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Kitchen tip: Best way I've found to grate a small amount of ginger is using the Microplane. This is my single favorite kitchen tool. Great for zests too.


  1. great idea with the mini-series, Chana. Can't wait for your next healthy spice.

  2. Love this- looking forward to reading more on these rich spices.