This Homemade Turmeric Paste Recipe uses only two ingredients, is easy to prepare, and is a convenient way of using a very versatile spice.
Making ready-to-use pastes out of ginger, garlic, chili peppers, or combinations thereof, is a fairly common practice in many kitchens, and Turmeric is well suited for this as well. If you are really only familiar with Turmeric as the bright Yellow Powder on your Supermarket shelf, but would like to explore it a little further, you may wish to read ‘Turmeric – An Introduction’ for a more detailed examination.
Here, you can see some fresh Turmeric (still unpeeled), and Kosher Salt. Salt is used as preservative for making batches large enough for several uses. Regular Iodized Table Salt will cause many pickles to darken during storage, and while I have never tried to see if that is the case with Turmeric, I have opted to just use a non-iodized variety, as Turmeric will darken a little anyway, and I like to keep the vibrancy of the natural color for as long as possible.
Naturally, you can make pastes with other aromatics in addition to Turmeric, but I am keeping my Homemade Turmeric Paste as simple as possible and only use the fresh rhizome, some salt, and, later, a little oil to keep the paste oxygen free in storage.
The Basic Method
The first step is to peel the Turmeric and then coarsely chop it as shown above. Next, you grind the chopped pieces to a paste, adding salt as you do so. The general ratio, if you are going to store the paste for more than a few days, is about two teaspoons per cup of the chopped fresh spice. Here, there is about a quarter cup of Turmeric pieces, so only a half-teaspoon of salt is necessary.
By the way, I should caution you at this point that turmeric, which is used as a dye, leaves deep stains on anything it touches. The powder variety is bad enough, staining fingers, dishtowels and plastic, but the raw paste is even worse. Fingers come clean eventually, but plastic can be indelibly stained and I now have a knife blade and a marble mortar that are colored a rather pretty yellow. Only time will tell how long these stains will last so be aware of this if you work with the spice and take the appropriate precautions.
Once you have ground the paste, you can transfer to a suitable jar for storage. Once again, if you are going to keep it for more than a few days, it is advisable to cover the paste with a layer of oil as can be seen in the very first picture in this post. This will keep the top from being exposed to air and oxidizing.
On a final note, the turmeric throws quite a bit of juice that is, on the one hand, rather watery, but also has a very slight stickiness as well. I am using an old plastic container to store the paste (one that can be discarded after use) but you may want to choose glass if you make your own.
How long can you store Homemade Turmeric Paste?
Most sources I have come across suggest that a paste made by grinding fresh turmeric should last a week or so in the refrigerator but, with a little salt added, this period can be extended considerably. The color will darken a fair bit, and this is noticeable in less than a week, but the paste you see above is a month old, give or take a few days, and the taste is still as fresh as when first ground.
Using Homemade Turmeric Paste
Essentially, you can use Turmeric Paste almost anywhere you would use the powdered variety, although it is particularly convenient for a few specific applications.
Above, is a preparation of Pork which has been marinated with fresh Turmeric Paste in Yoghurt and a few other seasonings before being grilled.
Here, Chicken legs are rubbed with Homemade Turmeric Paste before roasting. I call the result ‘Chicken Haldi’ as Haldi is the Hindi name for Turmeric.