My Times Today.In the Western world, turmeric has recently entered the health-food market with a bang: you’ll find it in lattes, skincare products, supplements, and other foods and wellness products. But in Southeast Asia, the region to which the plant is native, the bright yellow root has long been an integral part of not only cuisine, but medicine, as well.Turmeric is in the ginger family, and the part of the plant that is consumed is actually its root, which is boiled, then dried and ground into the powder most commonly seen at food stores and supermarkets (though the root is also sometimes used fresh — and whole — in certain dishes). Due to its distinctive — and vibrant — yellow colour, it’s easy to tell when turmeric has been used in a dish even before tasting. It is a key ingredient in many curry powders throughout Asia and the Middle East; in Morocco, it is a cornerstone of the ras al hanout spice mix. The turmeric lattes that have recently become popular in Western countries may be more familiar to those of Indian and Pakistani descent as haldi doodh, a warm combination of milk, turmeric, and other spices.In terms of its health benefits, turmeric is often touted as an anti-inflammatory; it contains high levels of curcumin, which might help with inflammatory diseases and conditions, though there is insufficient evidence that this is the case. Curcumin has, however, been shown to ease symptoms of hay fever, lower blood pressure, and pain associated with osteoarthritis. It has also been shown to further ease the symptoms of depression in those who are already taking medication for depression.Even if you don’t consume turmeric for its health benefits, it’s delicious: it lends a slightly peppery mustardy flavour to curries, soups, sauces and some desserts. Not sure where to find it? Just look out for that bright, golden yellow hue.