Winter comes, and the rains too, and colds and flu inevitably do the rounds. In India it is the monsoon time that is the worst. Luckily there are a range of drinks – chais and infusions – that at least alleviate the symptoms, and perhaps even shorten the length of the suffering.
A Karha, or Kadha, is an Ayurvedic drink made with herbs and spices that are simmered in water to extract their benefits. Karha are generally made with whole spices, herbs and other ingredients found in all Indian households, so they are inexpensive ways to strengthen immunity and fight infections.
One such herb is Tulsi, or Indian Holy Basil. It is a powerful herb in many respects. We have a number of recipes that make use of the properties of Tulsi.
In this recipe it is combined with the classic trio of spices called CCF – cumin, coriander and fennel, and it adds some cloves and cardamom as well. I know you will enjoy it, and it will help your cold if you have one. It also makes you feel incredibly warm and toasty. May you get well soon.
1 tspn fennel seeds
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn coriander seeds
4 cardamom pods
2 tspns dried tulsi leaves, or about 4 Tblspn crushed fresh leaves
jaggery or rock sugar to taste (optional)
Place all the spices in a mortar and, with the pestle, lightly crush them. Place in a pan and dry roast them until beginning to darken and are aromatic.
Add 2 – 3 cups water and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes. Strain into heatproof glasses and sweeten if desired. Sip slowly and enjoy.
recipe notes and alternatives
Turmeric, dried ginger and fresh ginger can be added. Add half a tspn black pepper to the tea as well, for a more potent effect.
Other additions include ajwain, Indian bay leaf, mace, long pepper (thippili or pippili), and a little ghee.