“The Turmeric Cookbook.” Octopus Books USA. 128 pages. $12.99.

It seems fitting that I grabbed “The Turmeric Cookbook” as our lingering Maine summer ticked over to fall.

My voracious appetite for cool cucumbers and peppers has waned as the temperature drops, and I’m moving past yogurt-based dill sauces and light fish meals to the heartier soups and stews that signal fall in our house.

A spicy dish simmering on the stove, warming the cool evenings, is just what the doctor ordered. The turmeric reminds me of the first time I was really introduced to cooking Indian foods, during my first autumn on the East Coast. The blazing trees outside my sister’s house were a revelation to this California native, and I fondly recall long afternoons cooking in the kitchen, discovering new spices and techniques. Now the season and the spice are intermingled in my mind and on my tongue.

Now I can feel virtuous too – turmeric is having a moment, as they say, for its purported health benefits. An ancient spice, it has long been associated with medicinal uses as an anti-inflammatory in Asian culture.

The slim volume, with just 50 recipes, is understated. There’s no author’s personality in the writing – no author’s name at all, in fact – and it reads almost like a textbook. A primer on turmeric discusses its health benefits, its history and includes some very helpful hints on how to remove the bright yellow coloring it can leave on cooktops, pots and hands. (Lemon juice and white vinegar to the rescue again!)

The cookbook has a nice mix of what I thought of as more standard dishes, with the turmeric added in the rub (roast chicken with tandoori rub) or a glaze (salmon glazed with miso and turmeric with wilted greens,) and more turmeric-dominated recipes such as “golden milk,” a coconut milk-based drink or turmeric-chai muffins.

For the adventurous, considering the distinct yellow hue that goes along with the spice, there is even a section on turmeric-based beauty products, including a face mask and body scrub. The instructions note “it is important to use organic non-dyed turmeric for these recipes.” Indeed.

Given my urge to rush into fall recipes, I tried the ginger and turmeric carrot soup.

Written for only two servings, I doubled the recipe and got chopping and measuring. It was simple to prepare, and the generous ginger and turmeric spices didn’t overwhelm the carrot flavoring. Quick, delicious, perfect.

And I didn’t even stain my fingernails.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine


Serves two

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric or ground turmeric

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus extra to season

1/2 pound carrots, coarsely chopped

13/4 cups hot vegetable stock

1/2 cup cashews, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder

Sea salt flakes

Heat the oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat, add the onion and saute for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the ginger, turmeric and black pepper and stir through before adding the carrots.

Continue to stir the carrots for another couple of minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the carrots can be easily pierced with a sharp knife.

Transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth; taste and adjust the seasoning.

Mix the chopped cashew nuts with the mild chili powder and dry roast in a skillet for a few minutes over low heat.

Ladle the soup into bowls, scatter with the spiced cashews and serve.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.