We might be a long way off from finding a vaccine for Covid, but that’s not to say we don’t have an arsenal of ancient Indian wisdom at the ready to help bolster our immunity.
Handed down through generations, these home remedies are most often rooted in Ayurvedic thinking, locking in the multitude of benefits intrinsic in our most basic kitchen spices. They take shape in a number of different forms, from simple haldi doodh (or Golden Lattes as they have been iconised in the West), to more baffling recipes backed up by experience and (lost) science.
Then there’s kadha, which has emerged as the most resilient Covid Warrior yet. Many who previously tested positive and have since recovered, attribute their recovery to kadha. Those who have managed to keep the infection at bay also attribute their stronger immunity to it.
An Ayurvedic tonic, kadha is a decoction of antioxidant-rich herbs and spices boiled in water for at least 15 to 20 minutes to fully extract their benefits. There’s no set recipe, with base ingredients varying as widely as the large melting pot of cultures and traditions characteristic of our country.
Our help at home speak faithfully of kadha made in rural villages with giloy, an age-old, miracle-herb which also goes by the name “Amrita” in Sanskrit, meaning immortality. FDA-approved giloy extract is known to fight bacteria and virus extracts; treat cold, allergies, flu and fever; purify blood; and treat patients suffering from Dengue, Swine Flu and Malaria.
Then there is kadha made with betel (yes, paan!) leaves, boiled with tulsi leaves, ginger, pomegranate peel (yes, really!) and a few peppercorns . We have a very wise japabai from Bikaner staying with us to help with Junior; and she introduced us to this odd but effective mixture as a natural cure for raspy coughs. We don’t question it, but simply find comfort in its restorative powers.
Although you can mix and match different herbs and spices, it’s important to keep in mind that some combinations are more effective than others. For instance, adding black pepper to kadha made with turmeric (using a 1:10 ratio), amplifies the absorption of turmeric exponentially.
While each home has their own unique way of making kadha, here are a few key ingredients (which you likely have at hand in your kitchen) to inspire you the next time you want to sip on this wonder tonic.
- Fresh turmeric (if you have it; else add a pinch of dried turmeric)
- Black cardamom pods (otherwise green cardamom will do)
- Freshly-grated ginger
- Black peppercorns
- Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Add the above by andaz (using your personal judgement for quantities) to a pot with water and boil for at least 20-30 minutes to allow the ingredients to amplify their potency. After this time, you’ll find that the liquid has reduced and become a tad thicker. Strain before serving and add a splash of honey or a touch of jaggery for taste. More detailed recipe for a kadha which doubles as a decongestant, below.
Beyond kadha, there are a wealth of more home remedies locking in the magic of our spice cabinets.
Driven by an inclination to reduce her reliance on allopathic medicines, mother-of-three, Shreyasi Goenka shares a couple of her go-to potions for boosting her family’s immunity. She shares them with no medical authority except experience. The wonderful thing is that since all the ingredients are ones that we consume on a daily basis, there is no disclaimer required! Over to her.
HALDI KA DOODH
Now it isn’t enough to add a teaspoon of haldi to hot milk and chug it. Haldi is essentially “dry”, it requires a fat to make it easier to absorb. Hence, ghee or coconut oil is required. The correct way of brewing haldi doodh is as follows:
- Heat a vessel.
- Add a drop of ghee and a pinch of ajwain, a pinch of black pepper and 2 pinches of haldi.
- Give it a couple of seconds.
- Don’t let the haldi burn.
- Add a cup of milk and boil till it reduces by a third.
- Sip as warm as you can.
ONION AND SUGAR
My son used suffer regular bouts of a raspy cough. It was difficult to watch him, but I stubbornly refused to give him allopathic cough syrups. I relied mainly on steam inhalation and homeopathy. Sometimes, it would take longer than I liked for him to get better. Once my waxing lady was visiting and she gave me a seriously weird recipe, but it worked like magic!
- At night, chop an onion and put it in a glass.
- Sprinkle one teaspoon of sugar on top.
- Cover it with a lid and leave it over night.
- By the morning the onion would have released some juices.
- Tip them into a small bowl , and consume!
- 1 litre water
- 1 tsp ghee
- 1/2 tsp haldi
- 1/2 tsp tea leaves
- 2 inch piece ginger crushed
- A pinch of dried ginger powder
- 4-5 cloves
- 1 big elaichi (cardamom), crushed
- 1 stick cinnamon
- Handful of Tulsi leaves
- 1 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
- 2 tbsp honey
Boil together till reduced by a third. Strain and sip hot through the day.
Do you have a go-to home remedy for boosting immunity? Do share by tagging me on Instagram @the_foodiediaries
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