If you’re new to vegetarianism or veganism, then one of the first recipes you’ll master will probably be a good scrambled tofu. Turmeric is an essential ingredient in this popular dish; the flavour of turmeric is quite earthy and slightly bitter. It’s a rhizome (same family as ginger), but it’s not spicy, just faintly mustardy. It gives tofu a vibrant yellow colour so that it resembles good old fashioned scrambled eggs. (Take a look at this recipe for Arepas with Scrambled Tofu.)

Another way to get this bright spice into your cooking is to add a little bit of fresh or powdered turmeric to cooking water when preparing rice; the result will be vibrantly yellow rice, but the flavour won’t be dramatically affected. Not only will this go well with Indian style curries, it makes an attractive addition to Mexican style meals such as burritos and bean dishes.

Because turmeric has become an extremely popular health food, you’ll also find it showing up in juice bars as a superfood ingredient. If you have access to a juicer of your own, try including turmeric in a juice combo of carrots, orange or grapefruit, and ginger. It tastes delicious, and will be a great pick-me-up during winter.

A basic red lentil dhal comes to life with the addition of a little turmeric. And it even has a place in European style dishes: just a quarter of a teaspoon can transform a simple pasta dish into something magnificent looking, and richly flavoured. Try the Spiced Pappardelle with Saffron and Peas.

The options for adding turmeric to your cooking are almost limitless; just remember that a little goes a long way (and it stains things very easily). Just a teaspoon in a soup, stew, stir-fry or curry will usually be more than enough. Happy experimenting!

This originally appeared in Vegetarian Living NZ, which is NZ Vegetarian Society’s seasonal magazine.