The unsung wonder of fresh turmeric
Turmeric is widely known as the saffron-hued powder that’s so commonly used in Indian and Asian cuisines. But there’s so much more to this spice! I contend that you haven’t really tasted turmeric until you’ve had the fresh roots.
A fresh turmeric root looks exactly like a ginger root, if a bit smaller in size. But when you cut the root open, its vibrant color and exotic fragrance are revealed – and it’s those two elements that make these cauliflower refrigerator pickles a stand-out! But that’s not all. The cauliflower florets are also pickled with fresh curry leaves, toasted cumin and chili pepper flakes (for a bit of heat). They’re simply superb.
Treat your taste buds, as well as your health!
You may have noticed that I spend a great deal of time talking about flavor, and it’s the unique flavor of turmeric that I tried to capture in this recipe. But turmeric has also been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and recent studies are starting to unearth the many health benefits of turmeric. So this little root is not only incredibly flavorful; it’s also healthful – a double bonus!
Where can you find fresh turmeric? The colorful roots are showing up everywhere these days. Look for them in Asian or Indian markets… or even at your local farmers’ market. Of course, there’s always Amazon.
Here are more mouthwatering pickles
You might also enjoy this recipe with fresh turmeric
Pickled cauliflower with fresh turmeric and curry leaves
makes 2 cups (without the pickling juice)
active time: 30 min
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (for blanching)
- (10 oz) (285 g) small cauliflower florets (3 cups)
- 1 oz (30 g) fresh turmeric root
- 1 cup Champagne vinegar
- 1/2 cup spring water
- 1/2 cup organic sugar
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds – toasted (see Viviane’s tip)
- 12 fresh curry leaves (or 1 bay leaf)
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Step 1: Fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes. Set aside. In a medium pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the salt and cauliflower florets. With the back of a spoon, push the florets down so that they are submerged in the boiling water. Blanch for 2 minutes only. The florets should have slightly softened, but should still be crunchy. Drain and transfer to the ice-water bath. When the cauliflower is totally cooled (this will take only a few seconds), drain and set on paper towels to remove any excess water. Place the cauliflower florets in the Mason jar and set aside.
- Step 2: Peel the turmeric root. Using a mandoline, slice the turmeric in paper-thin slices (1/16″). Place in a small bowl and set aside.
- Step 3: Place the vinegar, water, sugar, cumin seeds, curry leaves, chili pepper flakes, salt and sliced turmeric in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce heat and fast-simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour the hot mixture over the cauliflower. Push the florets down with a slotted spoon so that they’re submerged in the hot liquid, then set the jar aside to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, seal the jar and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours, up to 1 month. To serve, place the pickled cauliflower into a sieve to drain, then place on paper towels to remove excess liquid.
- Toasting the cumin seeds will intensify their flavor, so it’s a worthwhile step. Fortunately, it only takes a couple of minutes to do it!
- Heat a small heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the coriander seeds and cook until they turn a darker shade and are fragrant – about 2 minutes – shaking the pan continuously and taking care not to burn them. Transfer to a bowl… and voilà!