Turmeric is a rhizome and looks a lot like ginger. It is dried and powdered, which is its most common form. Young turmeric is grated and used in pickles.
It is omnipresent in curry blends like curry powder and sambhar masala. It is used in most dishes to enhance the color. Turmeric, when smelt independantly, has an earthy smell, but it is very mild and does not hold its own with other stronger spices.
Other that its, beautiful color, people do not often acknowledge what a powerhouse of goodness this spice is. It is anti-inflamatory, anti-septic and antioxidant rich. It is actually considered to have cancer preventing qualities. In India, people often drink turmeric in their milk mostly for health rather than taste.
It is used on fresh fish and meats, before cooking it, since it is believe that this prevents the turmeric acts as a preservative.
There are so many recipes on this blog that use this spice, it is almost impossibly to single them out. If you are trying the spice for the first time, sprinkle it on almost anything and savor the richness of color and gentle taste that this spice brings.