That nasty sore throat I brought back from my summer holiday? It is thankfully long gone. What is not gone is my mild obsession with turmeric, especially fresh turmeric. While I always have powdered turmeric at home to cook with, I only recently started buying fresh turmeric (mainly because my local organic supermarket only recently started stocking it).
So, while I was still soothing that sore throat, one day I decided to make turmeric tea using fresh turmeric instead. And it was nothing short of a revelation. While I used to dutifully sip mug after mug of turmeric tea to help my at times battered immune system, I cannot say I ever much enjoyed its flavour (and in fact I always tried to hide it underneath copious amounts of honey). Yet the same tea made with fresh turmeric tea is positively delicious because the balance of flavours of fresh turmeric is completely different. Fresh, the root has a really bright and almost zesty flavour, sweet yet earthy. And that acrid flavour that can be overpowering when using dried turmeric? It is barely noticeable in the fresh root. Fresh turmeric is so delicious in fact, I now happily drink turmeric tea and even make a turmeric soda (and I may or may not have enjoyed the odd gin & (turmeric) tonic too once that cold was gone)!
Maybe you don’t drink turmeric tea at all when you have a cold. Maybe you already know about fresh turmeric. But in case you don’t, and you too have been dutifully sipping acrid turmeric tea for too long, then today’s recipe is for you. Because I could not keep all that deliciousness all to myself. So in a short break from cookies, cakes and other baked goods and desserts today we will have turmeric tonic instead (and fret not, more cake is coming!).
Note: Unless you use kitchen gloves or a food processor, chances are making turmeric tonic will heavily stain your hands an any other surface it touches. Given this, I now tend to make a big batch of turmeric tonic (it will keep for about a week if stored in the fridge). And while I am no nutritionist, I have read that some suggest adding freshly ground black pepper when drinking turmeric tonic to help the body absorb or all those immune-boosting properties of turmeric, so I have included that suggestion below.
Makes enough turmeric tonic for ca. 2-2.5 L of turmeric tea or turmeric soda
2 tbsp grated fresh turmeric
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp honey
To serve: extra hot water (for turmeric tea) or sparkling water (for turmeric soda), juice of 1/2 lemon per person (or to taste), optional: freshly ground black pepper
Bring the water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Turn off the heat. Add the turmeric and ginger. Cover the pot and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain (discarding the turmeric and ginger) and add the honey, stirring to dissolve the honey completely.
For turmeric tea, add 1 part tonic to 3-4 parts hot water (depending on how strong you like it) and the juice of 1/2 lemon per mug (and you may want to add extra honey if you prefer things sweeter).
For turmeric lemonade, wait until the turmeric tonic has come to room temperature. Use 1 part tonic to 3-4 parts sparkling water (again, depending on how strong you like it). Add the juice of 1/2 lemon per glass (again, feel free to add more honey if you prefer things sweeter) and finish off with some ice.
To store, pour the turmeric tonic into a glass bottle or large jam jar and place in the fridge where it should keep about a week.