Look on the bright side: Yotam Ottolenghi’s turmeric recipes | Lif...

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Look on the bright side: Yotam
Ottolenghi’s turmeric recipes
Ground turmeric is a fixture on just about every home spice rack, but the fresh,
knobbly root packs even more of a punch
Yotam Ottolenghi
Saturday 30 April 2016 09.00 BST

T

urmeric is a rather unsung hero of the spice rack. Its distinctive
colour (and alarming ability to stain anything with which it comes
into contact) and leading role in the ingredients of curry powder
tend to overshadow quite how interesting its taste is. It’s not as
complex a flavour as, say, saffron, another yellow spice for which
turmeric is often, and not always appropriately, used as a cheap
substitute, but it does add an earthy, slightly citrus, bitter note to
curries, pickles and all sorts of other dishes.
Ground turmeric is made by boiling, drying and grinding turmeric root,
which, like ginger, is the horizontal stem of a plant that grows
underground. I use ground turmeric a lot, but it’s the fresh stuff, those
little, finger-shaped appendages, that bring real delight. It’s long been
available in Indian and south-east Asian food stores, and is now an
increasingly common sight in larger supermarkets; you can also buy it
online. Once peeled, that fragrant, shocking orange flesh is really quite
something, and though it turns yellow when cooked, it still goes a long
way to brighten any dish in both colour and flavour. Fresh turmeric
keeps well in the fridge or freezer, so don’t worry about any knobbly
roots left over: there’s still plenty of time to let them sing.

Roast aubergine with chilli yoghurt and paprika almonds
If you can’t get ancho chilli, just up the amount of smoked paprika to
half a teaspoon. Serves six.

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3 large aubergines, stalks removed, cut in half widthways and then
into 3cm-wide wedges
60ml olive oil
½ tsp ground turmeric
20g unsalted butter
50g flaked almonds
1½ tsp coriander seeds
1½ tbsp sesame seeds
Salt and pepper
⅛ tsp chilli flakes
5g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
For the yoghurt sauce
1 mild red chilli
1 ancho chilli, soaked in 60ml boiling water for 30 minutes, then split
lengthways and stalk and seeds removed
1 large anchovy, rinsed and patted dry
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp lime juice
70g Greek yoghurt
130g crème fraiche
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. To make the yoghurt sauce,
put the chilli on a small oven tray and roast for 20 minutes, until the
skin starts to blacken. Remove and, once cool enough to handle,
remove and discard the stalk, skin and seeds. Put the chilli flesh in a
spice grinder with the ancho chilli and a tablespoon of its soaking
liquid, plus the anchovy, garlic, paprika, lime juice and a quarterteaspoon of salt. Blitz smooth, then tip into a bowl with the yoghurt
and creme fraiche, mix to combine, and refrigerate.
Mix the aubergines with the oil, turmeric, three-quarters of a teaspoon
of salt and lots of pepper. Spread out on two oven trays lined with
baking paper and roast for 30 minutes, until crisp and cooked through.
Set aside to cool.
Melt the butter in a small pan on a medium-high heat. Once it starts to
foam, add the almonds, coriander and sesame seeds, and a pinch of
salt, and cook, stirring, for one to two minutes, until golden-brown.

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Remove from the heat, stir in the chill flakes and tip into a small bowl
so the nuts don’t keep cooking.
Arrange the roast aubergines on a large platter and spoon over the
yoghurt sauce. Sprinkle with the flaked almond mix, scatter over the
fresh coriander and serve half an aubergine per portion.

Pickled baby turnip with fresh turmeric and orange
Use larger turnips here, if you can’t get hold of the baby. You’ll just
need to cut them into thin wedges – just under 1 centimetre – instead.
Although this is a quick pickle – you can eat it 4 or 5 hours after making
it – the taste improves over the days and it will keep in the fridge for at
least a month. It works well alongside all sorts of meat, fish and
vegetable dishes. Serves four.
200ml rice vinegar
250ml water
80g caster sugar
¾ tsp yellow mustard seeds
2 pieces fresh turmeric (about 20g), peeled and thinly sliced
30 baby turnips, rinsed, green tops trimmed to 1cm, then cut into
quarters
4 long strips orange skin, thinly sliced into long strips
1½ tsp flaky sea salt
Put the vinegar, water and sugar in a small saucepan on a
medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then keep on the heat
until almost at a boil. Take off the heat and set aside to cool to room
temperature.
Lightly toast the mustard seeds in a small saucepan on a medium heat.
When warm and a little fragrant, transfer to a bowl and add the
turmeric, turnips, orange and salt. Mix with your hands, so the salt
gets rubbed in, then leave for 10 minutes. Transfer to a sterilised jar
and pour on the cooled pickling liquid. Stir gently, seal and store in the
fridge.

Malaysian fish and pineapple curry
This is lovely with plain steamed rice. Make double the amount of
spice paste and freeze half, so you’ve got some to hand the next time

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you want to make this lip-smacking curry. Serves six.
150ml sunflower oil
1 pineapple, peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1cm-thick slices
(you want about 600g in total)
50g palm sugar
2 tsp tamarind syrup
150ml coconut milk
20g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
Salt
200g french beans, trimmed, boiled for 4 minutes and refreshed
6 large or 12 small fish fillets (sea bass or bream would be ideal), skin
on
For the spice paste
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
3 tbsp sambal oelek (Malaysian chilli paste)
4-5 medium-heat red chillies
40g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3-4 lemongrass stalks, sliced
80g peeled and sliced fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp ground turmeric)
12 small shallots, peeled and sliced
15 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1½ tsp shrimp paste
Put all the ingredients for the spice paste in the bowl of a food
processor and work to a paste; you may need to add a little sunflower
oil – up to two tablespoons – to help it along.
Heat the oil in a large wok on a medium flame. Add the spice paste and
cook, stirring continuously, for 10-20 minutes, until it turns a deep
red; if it starts to catch on the bottom of the pan, just add a little water.
Tip the pineapple into the pan, cook for five minutes, then stir in the
palm sugar, tamarind, coconut milk, ginger and a half-teaspoon of salt,
and simmer gently for three minutes. Stir in the beans, then lay the
fish fillets skin side up on top of the sauce. Add enough water so the
fish is just immersed in liquid (you should need about 400ml), then
gently press the fillets down into the sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook
for five minutes, until the fish is done; make sure the simmer is very

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gentle and do not stir, otherwise the fish will flake. Carefully lift the
fish from the sauce, so it doesn’t break up, and serve on plain boiled
rice with lots of the sauce spooned on top.

Turmeric onion rings
If you have any marigolds or kitchen gloves then wear them when
grating the turmeric: your fingers will end up a bit yellow otherwise.
Serves four, as a snack.
400g buttermilk
60ml white-wine vinegar
40g peeled and finely grated fresh turmeric (or ½ tsp ground turmeric)
250g plain flour
4 tsp nigella seeds
2 tsp caraway seeds
Finely grated zest of 1 small lime, plus 2 tsp lime juice to serve
Salt
1 large white onion, peeled, cut into 2cm-thick pin wheels, then
separated into individual rings
500ml vegetable oil, for frying
Mix the buttermilk, vinegar and turmeric and set aside. In a separate
bowl, mix the flour, nigella, caraway, lime zest and three-quarters of a
teaspoon of salt.
In batches, dip the onion rings into the flour so they are completely
coated. Shake off any excess flour, then drop the rings into the
buttermilk. Lift them out, again shaking off any excess, then coat again
in flour. Keep the battered onion rings well separated on a couple of
large plates, until you’re ready to fry.
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan on a medium-high flame. Once hot
(about 170C), fry the onion rings in three or four batches for two to
three minutes each, turning over halfway through, until golden-brown
and crisp. Use a slotted spoon to lift them from the oil and on to a wire
rack lined with kitchen towel. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and repeat
with the remaining onion rings. Serve warm with the lime juice
drizzled on top; that said, they’re damned good at room temperature,
too.

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Look on the bright side: Yotam Ottolenghi’s turmeric recipes | Lif...

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Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

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