turmeric for curry and beyond

ground turmeric on thrifted handmade plate

After circling the edges of the anti-inflammatory topic for a year and a half, I've been dipping my toes in further. Turmeric, that bright orange-yellow ingredient in curry powder, happens, as a relative of ginger, to be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, antioxidant, antibiotic, and general health tonic—benefits those Far Easterners have known for thousands of years and which Westerners are only now discovering via scientific studies.

mixed spring greens & baked broccoli-cheddar omelet with turmeric and garlic

So lately I've been adding pinches of ground turmeric to morning smoothies and baked omelets. Frankly, by itself turmeric has an acquired, earthy, slightly bitter taste, less noticeable in the smoothies than the eggs. I much prefer it in authentic Indian and Thai curries, where the taste is muffled within medleys of exotic spices. But for a health tonic, it's colorful, inexpensive, safe, and also doubles as a vegetable dye for yarn, fabrics, and Easter eggs. Why resist? 

breakfast to go: pear-spinach soymilk smoothie with turmeric and bee pollen in Kerr jar on fire escape

As a side note, writing up this post has sparking an intense craving for some Indian food, my second-favorite world cuisine (the first being anything Mediterranean, from Italian to Lebanese). But home-cooking Indian food is, frankly, exhausting: an ingredient list a mile long, all that spice-toasting and -grinding, all that vegetable prep.

Bombay Chaat House food cart, SW 12th Avenue & SW Yamhill, Portland

Good thing the Bombay Chaat House food cart is only a few blocks away. Their "six-course," $6-plus-tip vegetarian special—with chai, naan, basmati rice, and several saucy vegetable dishes—is a tasty value, lasting me two or sometimes three meals. Plus, Bombay Chaat House has a spicy backstory full of marital intrigue and revenge. Remember to ask for the included (small) cup of chai. And because the special's default is mild, be sure to ask for hot sauce but use sparingly and don't unthinkingly dump the whole little plastic container over your meal unless you enjoy pain. It's super-hot sauce.

Bombay Chaat House, cart front, Portland

While my friend Jeff was ordering our takeout lunches yesterday, I snapped a few quick shots of the cart. I ached to take a photo of the 30-something Indian guy that pulled up in a gleaming silver BMW, paid for parking, and slipped into line behind us, but didn't. But I often see groups of Indians ordering here, which in my mind is further proof, beyond the positive Yelp reviews, of a good, authentic place to eat and food I much prefer to that served by the newer, fancier, more expensive Indian restaurant just a few blocks away.

Curry leftovers tonight? It's what's for dinner.

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