Learning to Spice [Coconut Turmeric Basmati with Cashews]

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My spice cabinet is organized into three sections. The first being my every day favourites - cinnamon, cayenne, cardamom, cumin, oregano. The second are the spices I use often enough but don’t typically grab for first - curry powder, white pepper, allspice, chipotle powder, etc. The last houses the spices that I rarely use. The ones I just don’t really know well enough to know what to do with. Occasionally I take these out and devote some much needed time to experimenting and getting better acquainted.  

Turmeric is one from group three. I just don’t know it very well. I know it’s the same colour as curry powder and often I think my tongue is expecting it to taste like curry powder. It doesn’t. It is used to make curry powder, but it doesn’t have that toasty, bold, spicy flavour that you might expect it to. Turmeric is warm, slightly peppery and tastes slightly of orange and ginger. It adds the most brilliant golden colour to any dish, and I won’t even get started on the health benefits of this humble spice. 

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If you’re new to turmeric like me, here are a few recipes from my favourite people that might help you test the waters: 

1. Roasted carrots + rice w/ zingy turmeric broth from The First Mess
2. Turmeric Tea from 101Cookbooks
3.Cauliflower Steaks with Ginger, Turmeric, and Cumin from The Kitchn
4.Warm Salad of Roasted Turmeric-Chili Chickpeas + Pear from Dolly and Oatmeal
5. Immune Boosting Turmeric Lassi from Green Kitchen Stories

It’s worth noting that The First Mess, one of my absolutely-must-read-as-often-as-possible favourites, was the inspiration for getting better acquainted with turmeric. Laura uses a lot of turmeric in her cooking and I always marvel at how beautiful the finished plates look. She seems to have a knack for creating dishes that you can almost taste through the screen. Always bursting with brightness and vibrant colour, plentiful in warm spices, and crunchy toppings. This leek, fennel, apple + walnut soup with turmeric is next on my turmeric to-do list. A total home run, right?! 

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Coconut Turmeric Basmati with Cashews
serves 6 as sides, 4 as main

Admittedly, I ate 2 massive portions of this rice because it was that tasty. It’s warm and fragrant, rich and comforting, and boasts such a stunning shade of yellow. 

vegetable or coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced or sliced thin
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, divided into two 1/2 cup portions
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 cups brown basmati rice
1/4 cup crushed cashews, toasted
scallions, to garnish
lime wedges, to garnish

Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and saute for 3-5 minutes or until softened and just starting to turn golden around the edges. Add in the first 1/2 cup coconut, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne and cook for another 2 minutes to wake up the spices. Pour in the water and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add the rice, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover leaving a small sliver open for steam to escape. Let simmer for 30-40 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and cover tightly for 20 minutes to steam. Fluff with a fork. 

Serve garnished with cashews, extra 1/2 cup of coconut flakes, scallions and a lime wedge. 

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