What Does Turmeric Taste Like? Plus, 11 Vegan Recipes to Try

What Does Turmeric Taste Like? Plus, 11 Vegan Recipes to Try

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.

Jump to the recipes


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. 

VegNews.Turmeric.Unsplash.PCOsha Key/lovetariandietOsha 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.

VegNews.CarrotGingerSoupAmy 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. 
Get the recipe

VegNews.JuiceBailey 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. 
Get the recipe

VegNews.CarrotBananaLoafEstella 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.
Get the recipe

VegNews.TofuScramble.HannahKaminskyMichelle 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.
Get the recipe

VegNews.LemonTurmericSquaresDanielle 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.
Get the recipe

VegNews.RoastedTurmericCauliflowerKatie Farina

6 Roasted Tumeric Cauliflower With Cilantro & Mint

Cauliflower is one of those foods that soaks up the flavor of whatever you choose to pair with it. So, if you’re in a spicy mood, roast it with a flavorful, rich blend of turmeric (two teaspoons this time), cumin, chili flakes, and salt. For serving, balance out the flavors with cilantro, mint, pomegranate seeds, and pine nuts. 
Get the recipe

VegNews.TurmericLassiKat Odell

7 Vegan Frozen Coconut Milk Turmeric Lassi

For days when the sun is beating down hard, and you need a refreshing nutritious beverage to cool you down, opt for this tasty milky golden lassi. (It also contains avocado for extra creaminess!)
Get the recipe

VegNews.PalakSheil Shukla

8 Vegan Spicy Spinach Chili Pālak Tofu

If you love to try out new Indian recipes, this spinach-based Indian gravy is a must. Traditionally, it’s served with paneer cheese, but turmeric tofu does a great job of mimicking the taste and texture.
Get the recipe

VegNews.GoldenmilkEmily Kan

9 Vegan Golden Milk Ice Cream

When that ice cream craving hits, you could run to the store and grab your favorite pint. But if you feel like getting creative in the kitchen, you could also make your own rich and indulgent golden milk ice cream with ginger and turmeric root. 
Get the recipe

Vegnews.Dal1Richa Hingle

10 Split Pea Dal With Ginger and Coconut 

You can’t go wrong with a dal. It’s simple to make, bursting with flavor, and packed with nutritious ingredients too. Pro tip: make extra so that you can enjoy it for lunch the next day, too!
Get the recipe

VegNews.AsparagusQuicheLinda Soper-Kolton and Sara Boan

11 Fluffy Vegan Sausage Quiche 

When you think of quiche, you probably think of eggs, too. But they’re not actually a necessity. In fact, you can make a deliciously fluffy vegan quiche with tofu and cashews instead. For added flavor and that rich yellow color, combine them with nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, and ground turmeric. 
Get the recipe

For more on vegan cooking, read:

Story Credits: Vegnews.com

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