By Siri Chand Kaur
The Gifts of Turmeric
Haridra, Sanskrit for turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an essential ingredient for many of the curries found in Indian cuisine. When I first began exploring the spices that are the basis for these spice blends, I assumed they might function similarly to basil where an extra “bit” might not change a dish too much. I learned quickly that these spices have far more potent flavors and with turmeric, less can be more.
In recent years, studies have found that one of the active ingredients in turmeric, curcumin, has far reaching health benefits. Incorporating it daily through curries has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as improve digestion, fight infection, improve blood sugar in diabetes, and preserve cognitive function. Defined in Ayurveda as having primarily the bitter and pungent taste, it has many functions on the subtle energy systems of the body and in low doses is known to be balancing on all the doshas.
The orange color in turmeric, squash and sweet potatoes indicates the presence of carotenoids like beta-carotene which are potent antioxidants and fat soluble. This means that you need at least ½ teaspoon of a fat like olive oil or ghee in the meal to properly absorb all the nutrients present.
Butternut squash and sweet potatoes can be made into a lovely curry soup. Brazil nuts are not imperative to add in this dish; however they add a wonderful creamy flavor and are rich in micronutrients like selenium which is low in many diets and believed to play a role in immunity via its ability to assist in antioxidant reactions. This recipe allows for a lot of flexibility as 3 cups of any root vegetable blend can be used.
Root Vegetable Curry Soup
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin seed
1 tsp. coriander
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1-2 garlic cloves minced
1 medium onion diced
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
3 tablespoons organic olive oil or organic ghee
1 ½ cups butternut squash (cooked or raw)
1 ½ cups sweet potatoes (cooked or raw)
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
4-5 Brazil nuts that have been soaked for 2 hours in water
Salt and pepper to taste
In at least a four quart pan, heat oil/ghee, add turmeric and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, garlic, onion, ginger and sauté for several minutes until onions begin to turn a clear color.
Add water and vegetable stock. Add squash and sweet potato; cook for 30 minutes or until soft. If using cooked leftover squash and sweet potatoes, this cooking time can be less; however 20 minutes is minimum for all the flavors to combine properly.
Take the vegetables and broth off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Drain water from Brazil nuts and add to the soup mixture. Puree with hand blender or in blender after it has cooled to avoid risk of burn from steam during transfer and blending.
Add salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne as desired. Top with freshly chopped parsley and warm on low heat on the stove if needed.
Dr. Siri Chand Kaur Khalsa maintains a private medical practice in Phoenix, Arizona. She teaches the fundamental idea that food is in fact medicine that can sustain our physical, mental, and spiritual bodies as we move through our time on Earth. After completing her allopathic education, Dr. Khalsa was blessed to travel internationally learning ancient subtle healing techniques and is now certified as a Kundalini Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master with additional ongoing studies in aromatherapy, Ayurveda, and nutrition. She teaches at Dr. Andrew Weil’s fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and at the Southwest College for Naturopathic Education. www.luminousfoods.com