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What does turmeric taste like? 5 vegetarian recipes you can try

What does turmeric taste like? 5 vegetarian recipes you can tryAmy Angelo

For many late 18th-century Western housewives and servants, Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy was a kitchen bible. The cookbook broke the mold in so many ways. It was easy to read, for one, as it was aimed at those who hadn’t been to culinary school. But it also introduced people to several recipes they had never come across before, one of which was Indian-style curry.

Of course, Glasse did not invent this recipe. It was taken from Indian recipes and has since been criticized for not being authentic (go figure). But it did help to introduce English and American cooks to one incredibly versatile, flavorful, and beautifully golden spice: turmeric.

Centuries on, turmeric has risen in popularity in the West again, going on a journey from a trendy spice to a plant-based pantry staple. And it’s no surprise really. Not only does it provide rich, deep flavor to curry dishes, but it can also be used to color tofu scramble, vegan cheese sauces, juices, and more. Plus, it’s packed with nutrition.

Here’s everything you need to know about turmeric, from what it is, to what it tastes like, to what to cook with it next.

What does turmeric taste like? 5 vegetarian recipes you can tryGetty

What is turmeric?

Used in India for, quite literally, thousands of years, turmeric is a type of rhizome (which essentially means underground stem—ginger and bamboo are other examples of rhizomes), and comes from the South Asian curcuma longa plant. The root is knobby and bright yellow (or gold) in appearance and looks kind of like saffron, another popular Indian spice.

Now, it’s mostly sold in powdered form; although, if you desire, you can also buy fresh roots from Asian or Indian grocery stores, as well as some health or whole food stores.

What does turmeric taste like?

One reason turmeric is so popular in cooking is, arguably, its color. Watch out, as it does stain everything—and we do mean everything. It gives curries a gorgeous bright tone and makes tofu scramble look authentically yellow and egg-like. But it also has a distinct taste, too.

What does turmeric taste like? 5 vegetarian recipes you can tryOsha Key/lovetariandiet

As you would expect from an underground stem, turmeric is earthy, slightly bitter, and a little peppery. It’s a great team player and helps to bring out the flavor of the other spices you pair it with. That said, it goes best with other strong, warming, and earthy spices, like cumin, ginger, and cinnamon, for example. The sweetness of the latter, in particular, helps to balance out the bitterness of turmeric.

What are the benefits of turmeric?

Turmeric isn’t just tasty and colorful, it’s also good for us. Modern research suggests turmeric is a good source of antioxidants—which are molecules that help to fix damaged cells in the body—plus it’s anti-inflammatory. It’s also been used in Ayurvedic medicine, as well as traditional Chinese medicine, for centuries.

But one issue with turmeric is that its active ingredients—like curcumin, an antioxidant that is also responsible for its bright yellow color—are not easily absorbed by the body. But combining it with black pepper (which contains an alkaloid called piperine) can help to significantly boost its bioavailability.

How do you cook with turmeric?

Turmeric’s distinct flavor means that it plays a key role in many Indian curries, including madras, korma, bhuna, and jalfrezi. And you can also use it to boost the flavor profile of soups, stews, marinades, sauces, and more. But be careful, because of its bitterness, you only need a very small amount of ground turmeric when you’re cooking—we’re talking about one teaspoon or less.

You can also swap ground for fresh turmeric if you prefer. All you need to do is grab your grater and grate the root before adding it to your dish. Again, a word of warning: expect it to stain your hands and clothes (so no cooking in white shirts!).

Vegan turmeric recipes to try

Turmeric is incredibly versatile. Sure, it works beautifully in curry dishes, but you can also use it to add flavor to many other dishes—including sweet desserts and drinks! Here are some of our favorite vegan dishes that include turmeric in the recipe.

What does turmeric taste like? 5 vegetarian recipes you can tryAmy Angelo

1-Vegan Carrot Ginger Turmeric Soup

For rainy, chilly days when you need a bit of a pick me up, cook up a steaming bowl of this nourishing soup. Carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, curry powder, and turmeric make for a dreamy, and decidedly orange, combination.

What you need:

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced unpeeled sweet potatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup canned coconut milk
1½ teaspoons salt

What you do:
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, warm oil. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic, and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add ginger, turmeric, and curry powder, and sauté 2 to 3 more minutes.
  2. Add carrots, sweet potatoes, and broth, and bring to a simmer. Top pot with lid, leaving space for steam to escape, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until carrots and sweet potatoes are soft. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Into a blender, add carrot-sweet potato mixture, and blend until smooth, blending in two batches if necessary. Return blended soup to pot, add coconut milk and salt, and reheat until desired temperature is reached. Serve warm.
What does turmeric taste like? 5 vegetarian recipes you can try
Bailey Ruskus

2-Vegan Golden Hour Pineapple-Turmeric Juice

You don’t have to cook turmeric into food at all if you don’t want to. Instead, you can reap all of its benefits (and get that fabulous color) by combining it with pineapple and drinking it in delicious juice form.

What you need:

½ medium pineapple, coarsely chopped
2 medium golden beets, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh turmeric
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh ginger
5 large carrots, finely chopped
4 large oranges, peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup water (if blending)

What you do:
  1. In a juicer, process pineapple, beets, turmeric, ginger, carrots, and oranges. Transfer juice to a glass, add lemon juice and serve.
  2. If using a blender method, in a high-speed blender combine pineapple, beets, turmeric, ginger, carrots, oranges, lemon juice, and water. Blend until smooth. Through a nut-milk straining bag over a large bowl, pour mixture, then strain out juice by squeezing contents in bag with hands. Pour in a glass and serve.
What does turmeric taste like? 5 vegetarian recipes you can tryEstella Schweizer

3-Carrot and Banana Bread With Turmeric Cream

Banana bread is, arguably, always delicious. But when you combine it with carrots and turmeric cream, this sweet treat is bursting with flavor in a whole new way. Enjoy it as dessert, an afternoon snack, or an indulgent breakfast.

What you need:

For the bread:
3 cups oat flour
¾ cup whole-grain buckwheat flour
½ cup flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ cup cashew butter
⅓ cup water
½ teaspoon lemon juice
3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
3 large carrots, scrubbed, peeled, and grated, peels reserved
½ tablespoon coconut oil

For the turmeric cream:

3 tablespoons coconut oil
¾ cup cashew pieces, soaked in water overnight, drained
2¼ tablespoons agave nectar
⅔ cup rice milk
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon bourbon vanilla powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

What you do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Into a large bowl, combine oat flour, buckwheat flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together cashew butter, water, and lemon juice. Add to dry ingredients with mashed banana and whisk until smooth. Fold in grated carrots. Line loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on long sides, pour in batter, and smooth surface with a spatula.
  3. In a saucepan, melt coconut oil. Add reserved carrot peel strips, remaining salt, and remaining cinnamon. Toss well. Remove from heat and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then arrange carrot strips on top. Place carrots and bread in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn carrots and continue baking for another 5 minutes until crisp and dry. Remove from oven and continue baking bread for another 20 minutes until golden brown, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven, carefully lift out of pan using parchment paper, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. For the turmeric cream, in a small saucepan, warm coconut oil until melted. Remove from heat.
  5. In a high-speed blender, purée all ingredients until a smooth cream is formed. Frost bread with turmeric cream and scatter crispy carrot strips over top.
What does turmeric taste like? 5 vegetarian recipes you can tryMichelle Siriani

4-Veggie Tofu Scramble

For those who miss scrambled eggs, enter: tofu scramble. It has the same texture, wobble, and even color, thanks to the addition of turmeric. For extra flavor and nutrition, add your favorite vegetables to the mix too—mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and peppers work particularly well.

What you need:

1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
½ teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (approximately ½ cup)
1 organic red bell pepper, chopped (approximately 1 cup)
½ cup sliced mushrooms
6 medium cloves garlic, minced

What you do:
  • 1. On a towel, place tofu, then place another towel over the top. Place something heavy on top to remove excess liquid, and let sit for approximately 20 minutes. Alternatively, use a commercial tofu press.
  • 2. Into a bowl, crumble pressed tofu. Add nutritional yeast, turmeric, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon sea salt, and stir.
  • 3. In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat oil. Cook onions for approximately 5 minutes, or until they soften and become translucent. Add bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, ¼ remaining teaspoon black pepper, and ¼ remaining teaspoon salt. Cook for approximately 8 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  • 4. Into a large skillet, transfer tofu and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for approximately 10 minutes or until tofu has absorbed all of the flavors. Remove from heat, and serve hot.
What does turmeric taste like? 5 vegetarian recipes you can tryDanielle Duboise and Whitney Tingle

5-Turmeric and Meyer Lemon Squares

For vibrant, eye-catching lemon squares that taste just as good as they look, add turmeric and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the mix, and sweeten with delicious maple syrup.

What you need:

For the crust:
1¾ cups almond meal
½ cup tapioca flour
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup maple syrup

For the filling:

⅓ cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
⅓ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of ½ Meyer lemon
½ Meyer lemon, thinly sliced

What you do:
  1. For the crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk almond meal and tapioca flour. Stir in oil and maple syrup, and mix until combined. Press mixture into bottom of pan and bake until crust is lightly browned around edges, about 15 minutes.
  3. For the filling, in a medium pot, whisk lemon juice and cornstarch until no lumps remain. Whisk in coconut milk, maple syrup, oil, turmeric, vanilla, and lemon zest. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently for 8 minutes, or until filling thickens. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour filling over crust and refrigerate 3 hours, or until completely set. Lift bars out of pan, cut into 16 squares, top each with a slice of lemon, and serve.