A few weeks ago, we were wandering around a grocery shop, both tired and a bit vague, and found ourselves lingering in front of the shelf that housed the fresh turmeric. I’m not sure that I’ve ever noticed it on display there before, and we were both a little bit intrigued, but it was one of those days when you shop off the list and try and get home to the haven of a dimmed room and a blanket covered sofa as soon as possible. Turmeric experiments mentally noted to occur another day.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, we found ourselves with a couple of others in a vegetarian Indian restaurant, ordering starters and pickles to share. When he took our order, the waiter informed us that one of the pickles – (I think it was the ubiquitous mango) – had been replaced by a fresh turmeric pickle. Was that ok, he asked? Well, hell yeah. We weren’t quite sure what to expect – I’ve never used it before, only the earthy, sometimes harsh, dried and ground variety. The pickle that turned up with our samosa chat and coconut kachoris, parathas and poppadums, was incredible – the colour of a sunset, with a surprisingly complex, mellow taste of turmeric. It got me wanting to start trying out those experiments.
Here’s the first – a fresh turmeric, ginger and carrot pickle. It’s a little intense – a combination of the spicy raw ginger and the white turmeric. I didn’t even know white turmeric existed, I was expecting to reveal a happy bright orange inside after peeling, but instead, was confronted with… Beige. Beige, my least favourite of colours. I gave it a tentative sniff, checking that I hadn’t picked up some variant on ginger, but it smelt of turmeric. Enter Google (where would we be without it?), and I found out that what I had was white turmeric – a variety boring in colour but potent in flavour. Nibbling on a bit confirmed this – cor, it packed a punch!
Anyway, I decided to proceed, blending the strength of the turmeric and ginger with some sweet carrot and honey, and aromatic seeds. I wasn’t originally planning to use coconut, but threw some in at the last minute to try and soften the whole thing up a little. We definitely liked this, but use in moderation! The thing that confused me the most was that the pale turmeric, slightly darker than cream in hue, still managed to stain my hands bright yellow. The wonders of nature, eh! Anyway, I’ll be trying to find regular turmeric next time, to see which we prefer…
50g fresh white turmeric
50g fresh ginger
2 medium carrots
10g unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 tbsp. flavourless oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. nigella seeds
Finely grate two thirds of both the turmeric and the ginger, cut the rest into fine matchsticks. Coarsely grate the carrot. Mix these three ingredients together.
Then, heat the oil in a small pan. Add the spices and let them sizzle for a moment, then pour over the grated veg. Add the honey to the pan and once it has melted mix through the pickle along with the lemon juice. Finally, throw in the coconut and mix well.
Spoon into a sterilised jar, and store in the fridge. We ate this after a few hours, but the flavours will develop even more after a couple of days.