Lately I've been starting and ending my days with a cup of turmeric tea, though mostly ending because often the tea is still too hot to drink when I need to be leaving for work. After first reading about turmeric's health benefits about a year ago, I immediately set out to acquire ground turmeric spice to make some tea for my boyfriend, who sometimes has achy back muscles. The dry, ground-up version of turmeric had a kind of bitter taste, so we didn't stick with the tea for too long. Then one day at the grocery store I saw what was clearly an exercise maniac buying bags of fresh turmeric, and because I'm a nosy shopper, I inquired and was informed that turmeric is good for sore muscles (the man was partial to throwing big pieces into his post-workout smoothies). It was time for a turmeric tea reboot!
Of course this tea is nothing terribly innovative, but the discovery of fresh turmeric sitting right next to the ginger that I frequently buy reminded me to always keep my eyes open for new things, and not carry out even simple tasks like grocery shopping on auto-pilot (this is how I came to be the proud owner of a Buddha hand over Christmas!).
Now back to those turmeric health benefits. Studies show that it may help prevent cancer and Alzheimer's, and turmeric also touts powerful anti-inflammation and restorative properties. The black pepper increases the bioavailability of the turmeric, which is just to say that the black pepper makes it easier for your body to absorb the good stuff turmeric has to offer. Earlier this year The New York Times' food section published two turmeric tonic recipes: one by a baker (to help counteract the consumption of sugar, which causes inflammation), and another by a chef looking to quickly mend a broken ankle.
Because my preferred method of getting around San Francisco and its hills is walking, my legs have basically been permanently sore since the year 2013. But after drinking turmeric tea for a month or so, my legs are no longer sore and feel great. And I have scientifically proven that one glass of turmeric tea counteracts 3.5 Cadbury mini egg chocolate chip cookies. But in all seriousness, a turmeric tea is surely a good thing for a baking blog to have on file.
A recipe within a recipe, especially one that takes some time and tending like this pomegranate molasses, is admittedly annoying. But hopefully you are lucky enough to live close to a well-stocked Middle Eastern market (I am not) or already have some homemade pomegranate molasses in your fridge (I did). If not you can make your own pomegranate molasses and proclaim yourself extra fancy, and then go on to make everything in the Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks (!), but if you are not so inclined, honey of course works.
Turmeric + Pomegranate Tea
Makes 1 serving
1 one-inch piece of turmeric, finely grated
Few grinds of black pepper
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses*
Approximately 8 oz boiling water
*Recipe for pomegranate molasses follows.
Peel turmeric. Using a microplane zester/grater, finely grate the turmeric into the bottom of a glass or mug. Grind some black pepper into the mug, and then add the pomegranate molasses. Pour boiling water over the turmeric-pepper-molasses mixture. Allow to steep for about 10 minutes, and then enjoy. You can strain the tea before drinking, but I usually can't be bothered to.
Recipe from Alton Brown**
Makes about 1 cup
4 cups (32 fl. oz.) pomegranate juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Place the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture has reduced to 1 cup, approximately 70 to 90 minutes. It should be the consistency of thick syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the saucepan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and allow to cool completely before covering and storing in the fridge for up to 6 months.
** The best (best best best BEEEEEEST) podcast to listen to while baking and cooking is Judge John Hodgman. Thanks to my dear friend Morgan, I am completely obsessed. And the best episode to listen to while making an Alton Brown recipe is one where Mr. Brown appears as an expert witness, "Cannery Row."