Spice Smarts: Turmeric

June 6, 2015  |   Brooks Halliday
Spoonful of Turmeric
60 min

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and picked up what you thought was fresh ginger…only to cut into it and see that it’s bright orange? Odds are you stumbled across fresh turmeric. 

A cousin to ginger, turmeric is a staple of Indian and South Asian cuisine. You’ve probably seen it in its powdered form on the spice rack—its bright yellow-orange color is hard to miss. But you’ve likely encountered it in some unexpected places too…like the mustard jar – turmeric is often used as natural food coloring. Some health experts also credit the spice with having immunity boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric is a must-have for authentic Indian curries, soups and stews. But the bright yellow flavor bus doesn’t stop in India. It’s common in Thai, Vietnamese and Persian recipes—as well as in dishes from places further west. In medieval Europe, turmeric was a popular stand-in for more expensive saffron (earning it the nickname “Indian Saffron”). It pairs well with cilantro, citrus, garlic, fennel, ginger and paprika, to name a few. 

If you’re trying to expand your family’s culinary horizon, this potent, earthy spice could be just the ticket. Give it a go with this easy Turmeric Chicken Curry recipe. Just be careful with white clothing and countertops...turmeric is one spice that likes to leave its mark.



  1. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, cook for another 2 minutes.
  2. Add spices to pan and stir. Add coconut milk and chicken. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to simmer until chicken is cooked through (registering at 165˚F when measured with a meat thermometer), about 30 to 35 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring chicken stock to boil. Add rice, reduce to simmer, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Keep warm and reserve.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, add string beans to the same pan. Simmer until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and stir to combine.
  5. To serve, fill bowls halfway with prepared rice. Top with curry – don’t skimp on the tasty sauce! Garnish with lemon zest and parsley.

About the author

Brooks Halliday

Brooks Halliday

Brooks Halliday is a food stylist, writer and recipe developer based in New York City. She's had a hand in making good looking food for magazines, cookbooks, packaging, print ads, commercials and television. Together with healthy eating guru Candice Kumai, she's co-developed recipes for the cookbook Cook Yourself Sexy, as well as for magazines and numerous food and household product brands. Before following her heart and stomach to culinary school, Brooks was a Capitol Hill press secretary and spokesperson for a national nonprofit organization. These days, when she's not on set or in the test kitchen, Brooks can usually be found in her own kitchen cooking for her handsome fiance and two unusually epicurean cats.