Turmeric is a herbaceous plant, native to eastern countries, also known as "saffron of the Indies". In fact, it is often confused with saffron, although it is much less valuable than the latter. From the rhizome a yellow-orange powder is obtained; this has a pungent odor and a bitter taste, used in gastronomy.
Curcumin is extracted from the turmeric root and is used to color cheeses, mustard, liqueurs and pastry products. As a matter of fact, this spice is highly appreciated in Asian and Arabian cuisines for its coloring properties but its flavor is less unique that that of saffron. It is therefore used in small doses and often in combination with other spices.
Turmeric appears also as a coloring complement to many spice blends, first of all Indian curry, but for its therapeutic properties it is a drug in Ayurvedic medicine. It is sometimes used by the food industry to color mustard or other recipes like paella, even though nowadays more tasteless chemical compounds are used. Moreover, its coloring properties make turmeric a great resource in fashion since it is used to dye fabrics and carpets.