Indian Cold Remedies – Part I

There is a cold going around and all three of my children have gotten it in turn. Here’s what I do when this happens to help relieve the runny nose, fever, headache, nausea, throat ache, and body aches.


  • 3 cups of water
  • *2 tablespoons crushed, dried mint – use 2 mint tea bags if you don’t grow your own and sun-dry as we Indians do
  • *6-8 whole black peppercorns – do not grind them or it will make the tea very spicy
  • *1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon turmeric either freshly chopped or powder (it is bitter so go easy until you get used to it)
  • *1-inch piece of ginger grated or chopped finely
  • fresh lemon or lime juice to taste
  • honey to taste – I like eucalyptus honey for this


  1. Boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover, the first five ingredients for 10-15 minutes. Strain out into a mug and add the lemon juice and honey. I used to make whole potfuls of this and drink it throughout the day. It helped a lot.
  2. The above ingredients not only make a tasty tea but also have medicinal qualities that help you get better.

Note: *These ingredients may be purchased at your local Indian grocer. For this reason, I have given you the name of the spice both in English and Hindi as that is the name (written phonetically in the English alphabet) you will find it under when you go shopping.

Spices impart specific flavors and aromas that enhance the overall flavor of the dish when used correctly. Moreover, they have a lot of health benefits. The list below specifies:

  • The name of the spice;
  • The flavor(s) it imparts;
  • How and when it may be used; and, finally,
  • It’s health benefits.

Pudina (mint)Sharp. Is used in its dried form as a condiment. It is added to vegetable and meat gravies after the burner has been turned off. Its powdered form is used to season yogurt and made into a tisane. Its fresh form is used to make chutneys and spiced drinks (gol guppa da pani). Mint helps reduce nausea and reduces fever. It is high in antioxidants and contains menthol that not only breaks up phlegm and mucus but also relieves a sore throat. It is used to soothe your stomach and aids in digestion. However, in some people that suffer from acid reflux, it may worsen symptoms.

Kali Mirch (black pepper) – Sharp, spicy. Whole peppercorns can be added early on when using them to season cooking oil. However, the ground form is only used toward the end of cooking. Black pepper is used as a condiment and a food preservative. It is one of the components of Garam Masala and Chaat Masala. It is used whole to season doughs like Mathi (savory crip wafer). It is most often ground and used as a condiment in cooked foods. The ground form, when mixed with honey is used to relieve coughs and sore throats and improve breathing. Whole peppercorns are brewed into a tisane to effect the same benefits. For best results, don’t buy it preground as you’ll lose not only flavor but also many health benefits. BLACK PEPPER INCREASES THE BIOAVAILABILITY of certain other nutrients, especially, but not limited to CURCUMIN, WHICH IS THE ACTIVE INGREDIENT OF TURMERIC. It helps reduce swelling; is a known antibacterial; it’s an anti-inflammatory; and, is high in antioxidants. It is a natural pain killer. In ancient times, it was used in conjunction with salt to preserve meat. It helps drain the sinuses.

Haldi (turmeric powder)Bitter and earthy.Turmeric is added to the oil after all the other spices during the cooking process. Used in powder form or the fresh, grated or minced form to season vegetable and meat dishes. Made into a pickle and eaten fresh. Boiled using fresh minced or powdered into a Tisane. Powdered form mixed with yogurt and black pepper and consumed. Added in powdered form to milk and consumed to combat sickness like cold/flu/throat ache or help reduce swelling in the body. Mixed with oil (coconut or any neutral tasting oil) into a paste as a wound dressing to prevent infection and reduce swelling; or, rubbed onto the face as a skin cleanser. The main active ingredient is curcumin. CURCUMIN IS POORLY ABSORBED BY THE BODY AND MUST BE CONSUMED WITH BLACK PEPPER TO INCREASE ITS ABSORPTION BY 2000%. If you are using a turmeric supplement, make sure it contains piperine (BioPerine) to help with curcumin absorption, otherwise, the curcumin will just pass through your body and not be absorbed. Curcumin is fat-soluble, so it is good to eat turmeric with a fatty meal. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Fights Alzheimer’s and depression by increasing a growth hormone (BDNF) that increases the growth of new neurons. Helps minimize the risk of heart disease. Helps fight cancer.

Adrak (ginger)Sharp, spicy.Used fresh in cooking. It is added after the oil has been seasoned by whole spices. It is added after the onions as it tends to burn easily whereas onions require more time to caramelize. It is added alongside garlic as they both have similar browning properties. It is oftentimes pickled. It is used as a condiment to garnish vegetarian dishes like Chole (white chickpea stew); Dahi Vada (lentil dumplings in yogurt); and, toasted lightly in butter and added to Saag (cooked, pureed mustard greens). It is used in its powdered form to season certain kinds of Ladoos (a kind of Indian Granola ball made and eaten for health reasons). It’s powdered form is used to make candy-like pills called “Churun” used as a digestive aid and other forms to combat nausea. Used to treat nausea. It is an anti-inflammatory and aids in the discomfort caused by osteoarthritis. It is a strong anti-oxidant; helps relieve menstrual pain; it is good for lowering cholesterol and blood sugar; and, helps you lose weight.

Lemon or lime juice has vitamin C, fights infections and reduces inflammation.

Eucalyptus honey is an anti-inflammatory that is great for draining sinuses and reducing fever. It has other health benefits for lowering blood sugar and it is good as a topical dressing for wounds, burns and cold sores.

Written by Anju Kapur of Anju’s Table. All content and images on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without my permission. Should you wish to share this recipe on your site, please add a link to this post as the source.

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