Have you ever seen a diverse grouping of spices mounded in bowls or on small plates? If yes, your eyes were probably drawn to the rich orange-yellow color of turmeric. This spice comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has been used for centuries in the Chinese and Indian cultures as medicine to treat bruises, chest pain, colic, and toothaches just to name a few. Turmeric has also been used for wedding ceremonies and to dye clothing and thread. And, yes, for cooking and eating, too! Turmeric is an impressive spice.
Curcuma longa looks like ginger and can be found in tropical regions. Considered a ‘spice of life,’ turmeric is rich in curcuminods and turmerones, compounds that have been associated with multiple health benefits, including anti-inflammatory activity and digestive disorders. The antioxidant effects of curcumin helps neutralize free radicals which can cause damage to healthy cells and cell membranes.
Not sure how to use turmeric in your cooking? Here is a Jamaican-style side dish that features turmeric. It looks lengthy, but it’s truly simple to make. Serve with roasted grilled or roasted chicken.
Jamaican-Style Corn and Coconut Rice
Jamaican Spice Blend
- 2 tablespoons turmeric
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, toasted
- 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds, toasted
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1 ½ teaspoons allspice berries, toasted
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 cloves
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 cup short-grain brown rice, soaked in water overnight, drained well
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 3 ½ cups corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon Jamaican spice blend (what you prepared earlier)
- ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 3 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
Jamaican Spice Blend
Place turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, allspice berries, ginger, cayenne, and cloves in a mortar; grind into a fine powder. Note: You will only use ½ teaspoon for this recipe. The remainder can be stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed jar for 6 months.
Place the coconut milk, water, and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Add rice to saucepan; stir, bring to another boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 50 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and let rice sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, serve.
Place 8 cups of water in a medium pot; bring to a boil. Add salt and corn to the pot; stir. Remove pot from heat and let corn sit for 30 seconds; drain well.
In a skillet, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add Jamaican spice blend and salt, stir for about 2 minutes until aromas are released. Add the corn and stir and cook for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Spoon the corn over the rice and garnish with thyme. SERVES 4 TO 6