Cayenne pepper and turmeric are exotic spices that are associated with West Indian, East Indian and Caribbean cuisines. Combine these two spices for a distinctive flavor, or use them individually. They are very versatile spices. Cayenne pepper can often be found fresh or dried -- most likely as a powder. Tumeric is more common in curries and marinades and is usually found in its bright orange-yellow powder form, but the small, fresh roots can sometimes be found in certain ethnic grocery stores.
Cayenne pepper is distinctive for its very spicy taste and its long, thin, red appearance. Used in Central and South American foods, cayenne pepper is also used frequently in Asian foods, and you can buy it in most grocery and health food stores. If you’re looking to add a bit of zing to your food, keep a stock of cayenne pepper powder in your pantry in case finding fresh spice is difficult.
Tumeric is distinctive in appearance, even if its taste is fairly mild. It’s most commonly found in East or West Indian curries, but you can use it for marinades, sauces and for making your own curry powder. In some cases, if you’ve got a good ethnic grocery store nearby, you can sometimes find fresh tumeric roots. Just slice the roots thinly and add them to your favorite Asian stir-fry for something new.
Cayenne and tumeric are common to spicy curry dishes, such as those from the West Indies or India. They’re also both used in Thai, Vietnamese and even Chinese dishes. When used in curries, having the powdered version of these two spices -- dried and then ground up -- is the most common method. However, if you’re making an East Asian-inspired stir-fry, try using the fresh versions of these two spices for extra texture and a fresher taste. Choosing a good quality powdered version will mean you need less spice for the same amount of flavor.
Tumeric contains curcumin, which is a well-known antioxidant. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, tumeric can help with treating digestion issues, reducing joint inflammation and relieving arthritic pain. Although research is still inconclusive, tumeric may help lower cholesterol levels and prevent buildup in your arteries.
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which is used as a natural remedy in treating joint pain or inflammation. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that cayenne may help with weight loss, although the studies are still inconclusive because the cayenne was not always consumed on its own.
Isabelle Hannigan has been a professional writer since 2004, with articles appearing in nationally distributed newspapers such as "The National Post." She is a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist, and has worked for the University of Guelph and Athlete's World. Hannigan holds a B.S. in biochemistry from McMaster University and an M.S. in nutritional sciences from the University of Guelph.