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Culture

Coming Down With Something? There’s an Indian Health Remedy for That

October 23, 2019

Tis high season for Indian food — last fall’s “detox darling,” according to one Bon Appetit article, and a perennial cold-weather favorite (curry!). Perhaps no one demystifies the comforting cuisine better than British cookbook author Meera Sodha.

You might have seen her recipes for Sir Lankan Dal and Roasted Broccoli with Almonds and Cardamom in The New York Times, or stumbled across her Perfect Basmati Rice on Food52.

But what we’re excited about right now, just in time for cold and flu season, is her magical elixir to cure sore throats and banish the common cold. And that’s not the only health remedy she shared with us.

“Some of these might not get the seal of approval from the National Health Service, but they’re used on a regular basis in our home and other Indian homes,” Sodha warns in her latest ensemble of vegetarian recipes, Fresh India. We’ll take our chances.

FOR TOOTHACHE, USE CLOVES

The pain of toothache can be all-engulfing. When it strikes, reach for a clove and place it where it hurts, sucking on it until it softens, and chewing to release more oils. Cloves contain eugenol, which stops pain in its tracks and wipes out germs.

FOR CUTS, LET TURMERIC DO ITS THING

When I cut my thumb open while working at the restaurant Gymkhana, Chef Ravathji ran straight past the first aid box and into the spice cupboard, where he pulled out the ground turmeric and stuffed it into the cut, then bandaged it up. The bleeding stopped immediately, and my thumb healed nicely in 24 hours.

FOR BETTER MEMORY, EAT ALMONDS

Eat 5 raw almonds a day. Mum and Dad eat 5 a day, every day without fail, and Mum would campaign for me to eat them on the run-up to any exam.

FOR COLIC, TAKE DILL SEEDS

Baby colic can be a nightmare for parents. To help with it, a breastfeeding mother can eat a teaspoon of dill seeds or drink dill tea. To make dill tea, lightly crush the dill seeds and infuse in a mug of just-boiled water for 5 minutes. Add honey or sugar to sweeten.

FOR NAUSEA, SICKNESS, AND SORE THROATS, GINGER IS BEST

My family is evangelical about these ginger pieces as a miracle cure for colds, indigestion, and travel sickness. My grandma hands them out to all the other seniors at her weekly meet-up.

Makes enough for 6 months

8 ounces ginger, peeled and cut into ⅛- x 1¾-inch matchsticks
2¾ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 tablespoons lemon juice

DAY 1: Put the ginger in a plastic or ceramic bowl and add the other ingredients. Mix well and leave to marinate for 1 day.

DAY 2: Put the ginger in a sieve over a bowl and spread the pieces out so they’re not lying on top of each other. Leave to dry out for 1 day.

DAY 3: Put the ginger on a pan lined with parchment paper over a boiler or radiator on low or in a relatively warm spot, and leave to dry out again for at least 1 day and up to 4 days. After this time you should have crispy yellow bone-dry pieces of ginger, which can be stored indefinitely. Pop them in a dry jar to be kept out of the sun until needed.