Turmeric is native to Southeast Asia, a member of the ginger family. In medieval Europe, turmeric became known as Indian saffron, since it was widely used as an alternative to the far more expensive saffron spice. Known for its warm, bitter, slightly musky taste and golden color, turmeric is commonly used in fabric dyes and foods such as curry powders, mustards, and cheeses. Turmeric is widely used as a spice in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. In South Africa, turmeric is traditionally used to give boiled white rice a golden color. It's also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is often consumed to help relieve arthritic pain.
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