The scientific name for turmeric is Curcuma longa. It is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant, native to tropical South Asia. Turmeric root appears like ginger root but it is bright orange inside. The root is mostly used in the dried and powdered form. Dry turmeric powder or fresh turmeric root, both impart sharp, slightly bitter flavor, and a bright orange color. It is an invariable element of Indian cooking as it adds color to stews and various dishes.
Health benefits of the same are described in Indian ancient Vedas elaborately. It is also used to make 'mustard yellow' color. The root is widely cultivated in India and the Caribbean. Researches and studies are being conducted to find a good turmeric substitute.
This yellow-orange culinary spice is popular for color and flavor. It has been known as poor man's saffron because it offers a less expensive alternative to yellow coloring. Curcumin is the primary pigment in turmeric which is generally used as a food color by various food industries. It is mainly used in dairy products, beverages, cereal, confectionery, ice cream, bakery, savory products, flavored milk drinks, cultured milk, and desserts to obtain lemon and banana colors in dairy.
Turmeric is present in sausages, pickles, relishes, sauces, dry mixes, and fish due to its original usage as a spice. It is considered as an effective antiseptic and a flavor enhancing herb. It is popularly used as a skin rejuvenating ingredient in face masks. Thus, being a truly multipurpose herb, it is difficult to find a substitute which can offer all these benefits.
As mentioned above, there are several uses of this spice in different areas like medicine, beauty, as well as in cooking. For color and strong flavor you may use one teaspoon dry mustard powder for 1 teaspoon of turmeric. Dry mustard powder can replace ground turmeric, however properties of turmeric are unbeatable and there is no substance which can be described as a perfect substitute. Mustard powder and fenugreek powder may be used for seasoning but they won't be able to play the role of turmeric seasoning. They won't be able to impart the color and flavor of turmeric. You may use turmeric oil if fresh or dry turmeric is not available.
For original color and rich flavor, you may use a pinch of saffron instead of turmeric. However, saffron is very expensive. Dried turmeric powder can replace fresh turmeric. 1 small piece of fresh turmeric is equal to 1 teaspoon ground turmeric. Some suggest that you may use curry powder in place of this herb. You may use 1 teaspoon of curry powder for ¼th teaspoon of turmeric. You can prepare and store homemade curry powder. Just take some curry leaves, cumin, and coriander, and grind them. This powder can offer a good flavor but the taste imparted will be completely different. Thus, turmeric is like nature's gift and it is almost irreplaceable.
It is recommended in many chicken and fish recipes as it is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, which also offers good color and flavor. Its pure powder is applied directly as a disinfectant on cuts and burns. Furthermore, it helps clear phlegm and reduce spasms of asthma and is hence, used as a medicine for asthmatics and as an expectorant for cough. It is helpful as it cures stomach disorders.
Raw turmeric rhizome juice is recommended for expelling intestinal worms. Its paste can enhance liver function. It is usually used in combination with sandalwood and milk in beauty therapies to improve the complexion as it prevents skin disorders like spots, acne, dryness, or discoloration and thereby offers you a glowing skin.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are out of a specified spice like turmeric, in a recipe, you may just leave it and proceed further. Its substitution can result in a flavor which can never be like the one, originally intended in the recipe. If at all, you still wish to use a substitute, it is wise to use it with half the specified recipe amount. At the end, you can adjust the amount according to your own personal tastes. While trying new recipes, you should always feel free to adjust. You can add a suitable substance to any recipe to suit yourself and your family.