You know turmeric for its golden hue and musky, somewhat peppery flavor. It’s the understated but essential bedrock in so many curries and the recent darling of the wellness world, turning up in turmeric tea, lattes and juices that promise anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric’s health benefits aside, we love it for its earthy flavor and vibrant color.

So what exactly is turmeric, where can you buy it and how should you use it? We’ve got the answers, including a host of turmeric recipes to put this popular spice to great use.

What It Is

Turmeric is a rhizome, a stem that grows underground, like a root. You can buy it fresh in some speciality markets, but most often it comes ground as a powder. It’s a staple spice in many Indian dishes and a key component of curry powder. It also appears in Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern cooking.

Where to Buy It

Ground turmeric is readily available in supermarkets, and here at Milk Street we sell our own turmeric powder, which you can find here.

Fresh turmeric, which looks like ginger but much smaller, is harder to find, but as it becomes more popular, the knobby rhizome is turning up in more specialty markets and natural foods stores.

If you’re looking to make a great turmeric latte at home, we recommend Australia’s Jomeis Fine Foods Turmeric Latte, a vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free blend of turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper and coconut milk powder sweetened with stevia. It’s an easy way to get your golden latte fix without standing in line.

How to Cook With Turmeric

It might be an unsung hero in the spice world, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful; a little goes a long way.

Add a pinch to softened onions or other aromatics like ginger and scallions as the base for many Indian dishes, like these Indian Lentils with Spiced Oil (Tarka Dal).

Stir into melted butter to use when making eggs, like our Cilantro-Tomato Omelet with Turmeric Butter. (Yes, turmeric butter!)

Mix into a coating for fish, as in our version of the Vietnamese classic Cha Ca La Vong, Turmeric Fish with Dill and Peanuts.

Add into lattes or tea for color and a musky flavor, and don’t stop there.

See below for more ways to cook with this golden spice.