In North India, turmeric is commonly called “haldi,” a word derived from the Sanskrit word haridra, and in the south it is called “Manjal,” a word that is frequently used in ancient Tamil literature. It is an important spice in the Indian kitchens and its use dates back nearly 4000 years to the Vedic culture in India, where it was used as a culinary spice and had some religious significance.
India currently meets an annual production demand of about 8 lakh MT of cured turmeric. It is the largest producer of turmeric in the world and contributes to almost 80% of the total production. About 92% of the produce is consumed domestically and the remaining 8% is exported.
Medicinal Properties of Turmeric
The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric have been known to Indians for centuries and with the advent of modern technology, awareness of its nutraceutical value and use as a medicine to heal many health disorders like liver problems, digestive disorders, skin diseases and wound healing has been continuously increasing. It is commonly used as a preservative and food colouring, and is one of the basic ingredients in curry powder.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric which has been shown to have a wide range of therapeutic effects.
Varieties of Turmeric –
Today, approximately 30 varieties have been recognized in the type of Curcuma in which turmeric belongs. Some of the most popular ones are –
- Alleppey Finger – Kerala
- Erode and Salem turmeric – Tamil Nadu
- Rajapore and Sangli turmeric – Maharashtra
- Nizamabad Bulb – Andhra Pradesh
- Lakadong – Meghalaya
Note: Lakadong is very famous for its high curcumin content of more than 7.5%
Lakadong Turmeric – The Gem of Meghalaya
Meghalaya has natural advantages in growing a variety of spices of which the prominent ones are turmeric, ginger, chilli, black-pepper and bay-leaf. The Lakadong turmeric grown in the state is unique in the world with the potential to change the lives of countless farmers as well as the consumers.
Today, with the efforts of the Government of Meghalaya and people like Padma – Shree awardee Trinity Sahoo, Lakadong turmeric from Jaiñtia Hills, Meghalaya, Lakadong Turmeric is being sought after for its use in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industry.
Being one of the finest turmeric varieties in the world – the famous “Lakadong” variety has a curcumin content of more than 7% (almost 4% higher than the other varieties).
What are the differences Between Lakadong Turmeric & other Turmeric varieties?
All turmeric powders may appear the same to the uninitiated.
A closer examination, however, will reveal a good many differences between Lakadong turmeric and ordinary turmeric.
- The most glaring difference when it comes to Lakadong is the level of curcumin – the active constituent within turmeric that is responsible for its therapeutic properties. With an average content of 7.5%, Lakadong far exceeds the 3% normally seen with other varieties.
- Lakadong turmeric is recognised for the vibrant yellow colour that comes from the high curcumin content. This unique colour makes your food look appealing to the eye and more appetizing, especially if you’re a foodie! Other turmeric types, by comparison, give the food a not so appealing, even dull, appearance.
- As you add your Lakadong turmeric to your curries the room is immediately filled with beautiful scents of earthy, delectable treats. Your curries’ aroma wafts through the air and right into the mouths and noses of those present. And it makes them feel good; a sense of satisfaction they received goes above and beyond what other turmeric powders could ever provide.
What are the easy home tests I can do to check the quality of turmeric?
Here are some of the Visual, Physical and Smell Tests that can be easily conducted at home –
These measures might prove to be less precise than some of the other methods, but they can offer more of an insight into turmeric quality and if it is genuine.
- The colour test: In loose powder, the one sure way to check its genuineness is to inspect its physical and visual appearance. This can be tricky sometimes. But if you buy from known and trusted sellers you are less likely to be cheated. The colour of good Lakadong turmeric is a fluorescent deep orange to bright yellow. If the colour is somewhat lighter or dull yellow in shade, chances are it is of lower quality or purity.
- The palm test: Put a pinch of turmeric powder on the palm of your left hand. With your right thumb rub the powder for a few seconds. The good powder will stick to your palm, leaving a deep bright orange tint on it. Now tilt your left palm sideways perpendicular to the ground. Much of the powder will remain stuck on your palm. If more of it falls it may have been mixed with other ingredients like chalk.
- The smell test: Good turmeric powder will have a distinct, but mild, earthy aroma and turmeric users will immediately recognize a gingery and orangey scent in it. Bad turmeric will not emit such an aroma. Rather it might have some indistinct smell that doesn’t quite give the flavour of turmeric. This may be mixed with some adulterant like talc or corn flour or with some very poor-quality turmeric.
- Turmeric Water test (for foreign ingredients): At home, you can take a level teaspoon of turmeric powder and add it to a glass tumbler of lukewarm water, without stirring. Let it stand for about 15-20 minutes to settle down. If the turmeric is genuine it will settle at the bottom and the water will be clear. But if there are foreign ingredients the water will cloud.
- Examining Good Quality Rhizome : Rhizome comparison Turmeric Test – We can also identify the quality of turmeric at the rhizome level. This involves knowing the actual rhizomes species to determine the quality of turmeric.
Lakadong rhizome has fingers like those in another turmeric (and ginger) species. They look very much alike in shape and structure. The roots, however, are the tell-tale signs.
Lakadong roots are thin, long and parallel in diameter throughout their lengths. Any other turmeric will have roots that are thicker in diameter at the base. The thickness tapers off towards the tip.
Sources – The Zizira Explorers, Meghalaya Lakadong Mission Report