A native spice of India’s northeastern region, the GI-tagged Lakadong Turmeric is loaded with health benefits
Naming a popular food after its place of origin is an adored practice, but there are times when you get to know about a place only after the food makes a mark in the global culinary map. Such is the story of a nondescript village in Meghalaya, called Lakadong. Tucked away in Jaintia Hills’ Laskein Block, Lakadong is now synonymous with the world’s finest heirloom turmeric.
High in curcumin content (7%-9%, as compared with 2%-3% found in regular haldis), the Lakadong turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is easily one of the most sought-after varieties in India and even internationally. Curumin is a value metric that determines the turmeric’s bright yellow colour and medicinal properties. One of the most treasured ingredients originating in Northeast India, this native spice is grown on small family farms by the state’s indegenous people, using traditional farming practices and techniques. In 2015, the Lakadong Turmeric was given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Spices Board of India.
Health enthusiasts already hail the Lakadong turmeric for its pure, adulteration-free quality. The credit for the revival and popularity of the Lakadong turmeric outside the region goes to Meghalaya’s indegenous communities, local entrepreneurs and agri-startups that are closely involved in research and retail of this non-GMO variety of haldi. Meanwhile, the subsidy given by the Spices Board and support from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research are also worth mentioning here.
Did you know Jaintia Hills’ Trinity Saioo - a champion of Meghalaya’s Lakadong turmeric - was honoured with Padma Shri in 2021 for her contribution in mobilising as many as 800 farmers from Mulieh village to establish self-help groups for growing the native spice to boost the the local economy? A school teacher by profession, she is also the one to encourage the state government to launch the ‘Lakadong Turmeric Mission’, in a bid to boost the production of the native turmeric.
Lakadong haldi is now being sent to different parts of India, where urban folks are appreciating and embracing the turmeric for its distinctive flavour and curious origin.
Zizira, for instance, is becoming a household name for its assortment of Lakadong turmeric-based products. It’s primarily a community initiative that aims to redirect food lovers’ interest in the northeastern state’s treasure trove of ingredients and organic vegetables and fruits.
There are a number of benefits of including Lakadong turmeric in our daily diet. It helps keep your skin healthy, improves brain health, strengthens your digestive system and is even said to help cut the risk of diabetes and certain types of cancer. The enzyme, called lipopolysaccharide, present in the turmeric improves your immune system and helps your body combat viral infections.
Still thinking about how to include this super healthy ingredient to your daily diet? Let us share a few quick ideas - you can bake a turmeric lemon cake, which is easy to prepare and boasts a rich yellow tinge; Lakadong turmeric ginger tea is a potential antioxidant and is said to be good for your gut health and skin; and the Lakadong turmeric latte is something that can be compared with your well-loved glass of haldi doodh.