Turmeric comes from the root of Curcuma longa, a leafy plant in the ginger family. The roots are boiled or steamed then dried and ground (the most widely available form) to a deep yellow powder. It is mildly aromatic and tastes pungent, bitter and earthy. Don't use it as a substitute for saffron as the colour might be similar but the flavour is entirely different. Turmeric is one of the most versatile spices in Indian cooking. Its rich orange yellow colour adds to the appearance of any dish, and it is a vital ingredient of so called curry powder.