Turmeric is commonly used in curries, either on its own or in a masala. For culinary use, it is available as a bright yellow powder. Turmeric (Latin ~ Curcuma longa) is also known by other names in South Africa and south Asia such as hurdee and haldi. A common misspelling is tumeric.
Turmeric is one of the cornerstone spices of South African Indian cooking as is the case with most south Asian dishes. It is used in small quantities in both meat and vegetarian dishes. It has a bitter taste, especially in excess, and is used both for its coloring properties as well as its flavour. In the past, turmeric was used as cheaper alternative to saffron although it does not have the same taste, aroma or depth of color.
Apart from its culinary uses, turmeric is also an important part of Hindu marriage ceremonies. Applied on the bride and groom a day before the wedding, turmeric was used to cleanse and brighten the skin. Its application though was more symbolic rather than practical. Many Indian cosmetics still use turmeric for brightening the skin and evening out the complexion.
It is widely used in Ayurveda for a host of ailments and many Indian home remedies, like those for a sore throat, makes use of turmeric among other spices brewed in milk. Scientific research has shown that turmeric has many medicinal benefits including the prevention of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and the treatment of viral infections.