Just half a spoon of Haldi (Turmeric)

“Half a spoon ( about 1 teaspoon) is enough!”, my mother would say. The first thing I learned about cooking veggies was “add some haldi ( turmeric)”  after about two – three minutes of sauteing, be it potatoes,  peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, they all needed that little bit of haldi, followed by a dash of salt. Cook on low heat for about 20 – 25 minutes until done, finish with a sprinkle of garam masala. Simple, easy & delicious!


Namak Daani ( Traditional spice box)

My mom’s spices were all freshly ground and stored in this Namak Daani ( spice box) a standard feature at many North Indian homes. She could whip up 5 – 6 dishes for a crowd coming over for dinner in a couple hours. Be it 15 people or 50 people, her estimate on how much to make was always perfect. And the food always delicious!!! She  kept it simple, by using Haldi and Garam masala as her primary spice agents. To get that touch of tanginess in Cholle ( garbanzo bean masala) she would add freshly crushed Anardana (dry Pomegranate seeds), or raw green chillies to spice up the saag( steamed greens) or raw chopped red onions on the side to add that crunch to the daal.

Quick Cabbage Stir Fry



4 C chopped Cabbage
1 Banana Pepper
1 t tumeric
1 t Garam Masala
2 T oil


  1. Put the chopped cabbage and banana pepper on a non stick skillet
  2. Saute for 2 minutes
  3. Add Tumeric and Salt and blend well for 2 more minutes till it is soft and slightly cooked
  4. Drizzle oil and blend for another 2 minutes on high heat
  5. Sprinkle Garam Masala
  6. Enjoy it with some Roti/Pita or flat bread…….

Dry turmeric  would always be spread out in the sun before being taken to the mill to be ground into a fine powder. After I moved away from home,  I always got to bring a jar back, each time I visited them, for the next 20 years. My father dutifully made packets for me to take along, even though I had plenty of stock. So, I could share fresh turmeric powder with my friends as well – the abundance of it all.


Now, I look at the few jars I have left  and wonder if I should leave them as keepsakes, as this tradition of drying and grinding turmeric at our home in India has come to an end….









7 thoughts on “Just half a spoon of Haldi (Turmeric)

  1. I am glad to see you writing and we get to benefit by trying your recipes. In a cooking class once you mentioned that Tumeric adds a note of brightness to the dish… I thought it was fitting that two special childhood to adulthood memories of both your mother and father are attached to Tumeric. When you get near the end of one of your bottles keep the last few spoonfuls as a visual and tangible memory. Until then keep adding brightness and memories to your dishes — I suspect that is what your father would have wanted for you.


    1. So sweet of you to say that Jamie! Yeah.. my father would have liked me to do exactly that… add brightness to other people’s lives…Thank you! you made my day…


  2. Beautiful post Ish. Poignant.
    It’s sad when traditions come to an end, but you are carrying on your ‘food’ traditions in such a wonderful way.
    Your mum’s namak daani takes me back to my childhood. How odd though, we never put namak in it:) Namak was always stored separately!
    Once again, I wish there was a taste button on my laptop:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ronit! Yeah…with my dad not being around, things have changed and also the grinding mills are getting sparser with the younger, busier folks preferring pre-processed flour and spices…..

      Liked by 1 person

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