Turmeric, Tamarind & Chai
India puzzled me. (Guffaws heard off stage; India is overwhelming, a portal into sensory-tsunami.)
Visiting Mumbai friends and traveling three months, an exotic hurrah before grad school, I was puzzled that anyone could be healthy there, rich or desperate.
Already interested in soil health and land stewardship, some years later I would be embarking on organic farming.
The soils in India the ancient shocked me: depleted, over-grazed, much of the dusty topsoil blowing about in a layer hundreds of feet high, in torrid heat and Beijing-magnitude air pollution.
Sacred cows wandered at will; their manure, needed as fertilizer, was used instead as cooking fuel, in that deforested land. Women slapped hand-print oval poop-patties on hot walls to dry.
Everyone used aluminum cheap cooking pots; DDT was strewn about like fairy dust to deal with billions of flies and mosquitoes. The daughter of my friends sprayed her children's sleeping room with insecticide EVERY night at bedtime.
And yet, lepers and near-cadavers sleeping on sidewalks notwithstanding, I interacted with physically beautiful people and many awed me with their education and IQ's.
How could this be, in such crowded, polluted and soil-impoverished conditions? What was I missing; what was salutary and unfamiliar?
Chai for one, the black tea, spiced with cinnamon, cardamon, clove and sometimes black pepper, ginger, nutmeg, star anise; sweetened with raw sugar and served creamy-colored from cow or water buffalo milk. www.chai-tea.org/recipes.html
2) Tamarind is eaten raw, made into drinks & confections, and cooked in curries; we understand now that it is one of the few miracles which can help the body detox fluoride from the pineal gland, thyroid and bones.
So-called "beneficial fluoride" as meme and public water imposition continues to damage health. Tamarind is used in both Ayurvedic and holistic western medicine to detox fluoride.
The fruit tastes tart-sweet; you crack the woody pods pressing with your thumbs, and suck the jam-like fruit from around the fibrous interior holding large seeds.
3) Turmeric enriched my cogitation on the WHY of India health. It's the orange-yellow color in curry powder and is being avidly explored in present time for its medical benefits.
Before we go further, it's contra-indicated if taking blood-thinners or if troubled with gall bladder disease; check with your physician.
Turmeric functions as an anti-inflammatory (think: arthritis, fibromyalgia, auto-immune disorders.) It's exciting research in holistic cancer treatment, and in dementia.
Many markets and health food stores now carry fresh turmeric root, which looks a bit like ginger root but is brilliant-orange in cross-section.
Easy ways to use the fresh root:
Add thin slices of turmeric to rice pilau cooking water with whole clove, cinnamon, a spoon of coconut oil or ghee and either peas or raisins.
2-4 thin slices of turmeric are amazing in puree'd soups. My green-thumb aunt adds it to tomato basil soup.
I steamed a head of broccoli; added it and the cooking water to the blender with salt, slices of turmeric and ginger, a pat of butter, pinch of cayenne, and a chunk of cheese for a startlingly quick and nourishing cream soup.
Powdered turmeric is delicious beaten with eggs for an omelet.
Here's today's Guacamole:
1 ripe avocado sliced in half lengthwise, de-seeded, mashed
1/2 lime juiced
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 bunch cilantro snipped or minced
Himalayan salt to taste
1+ tsp red palm oil
1/2-1 tsp turmeric powder
dash of cayenne
Mash all together and use as dip with flax seed crackers or corn chips, or as rich salad dressing.