The flavor of turmeric is often described as buttery and slightly bitter, with a hint of mustard and horseradish. Fresh turmeric is more like ginger, but sweeter and more aromatic.
Turmeric is often suggested as a substitute for the much more expensive saffron (although not by professional chefs) and annatto, because it produces that beautiful golden color associated with saffron-infused recipes. Indeed, turmeric is often added to ground saffron by some unscrupulous manufacturers to increase the profit margin. When substituting turmeric for saffron, be aware that turmeric is much more pungent and should be used sparingly.
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