The growing threat of COVID-19 has impacted food search terms on the Internet search engines and many Instagram timelines. There's a flood of home-cooked food posts on Instagram, and everybody is suddenly a gourmet home cook. This is also a time when home remedies and our grandparents' cook books are back in circulation. Immunity has become a game changer in the fight against the Coronavirus. Generations of Indians have always believed that prevention is better than cure. It's why immunity boosting ingredients like turmeric, ginger and neem have always been in the mix in home remedies.
While most experts will tell you that immunity is something that you build over years, even decades, depending on your dietary choices, it's never too late to make simple modifications to your diet that can add a shot of immunity. I've pulled out simple tricks and hacks from my grandmothers' playbooks, simple remedies that are followed in many South Indian homes.
Here Are Some Easy Tips To Add Immunity Boosters To Your Diet:
Even as researchers race against time to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, many doctors believe that adding Vitamin-C to your diet can give you an extra ring of protection. Amla has been an effective remedy to fight the common cold and amla's anti-bacterial and astringent properties can improve your immunity. It's not always easy to find fresh amla but many neighbourhood stores stock amla powder. I add a spoon of amla powder to my morning glass of buttermilk - it's an easy method to incorporate it into your daily diet. You could also add fresh amla or amla powder to a coconut chutney that you serve with idli or dosa.
An integral part of our daily diets across India. Curcumin an anti-oxidant, the main active ingredient in turmeric boasts of powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric's antiseptic properties are legendary. From Lakadong turmeric in Meghalaya to Salem turmeric from Tamil Nadu, we have access to some of the finest turmeric in the world. Start your day with a glass of warm water (not boiling hot) infused with turmeric, lemon, ginger and a spot of honey. You can gargle your throat as you drink the water. And then there's haldi doodh or manjal paal in Tamil that now many hipsters in the world know as turmeric latte. Almost every home across India has its own recipe that usually adds turmeric, crushed pepper, saffron and almond slivers to warm milk. It's also a great night cap for sound sleep. The other simple trick is to add turmeric powder while you cook the dal for rasam.
I attempted a traditional rasam (see recipe) that also adds thoothuvalai (solanum tribolatum) powder. This rasam has always been a 'go to' home remedy in many South Indian homes to combat throat infections or common cold. Thoothuvalai is a favourite among traditional medicine practitioners in many parts of India for its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties. While Solanum Trilobatum (or just solanum) is its botanical name it's also known as the Purple Fruited Pea Egg plant. The plant grows widely in India and parts of South Asia. It's quite easy to find in states like Tamil Nadu where it's also sold as a type of keerai or spinach. But it's easier to get the powder (available in organic stores/grocery stores in parts of South India or online delivery platforms).
Thoothuvalai is a favourite among traditional medicine practitioners.
An adrak wali chai is a simple fix in many Indian homes both for it's refreshing flavour and intrinsic properties to soothe your throat. Ginger has many health benefits and is a popular immunity booster. It's also a regular home remedy to cure a simple flu or cold. Sukku or dried ginger is a popular ingredient in many traditional medicine stores in Tamil Nadu and South India. Sukku is the main ingredient in sukku kaapi, a comforting beverage that clears your throat and also renowned for its digestive and anti-inflammatory properties. The traditional recipe is dominated by dried ginger. There's also a version that incorporates coriander seeds with crushed pepper and cumin (jeera) in the powder; it's sometimes referred to as sukkumalli kaapi (malli or kothamalli is the Tamil word for coriander).
One of the best known and easily available sources of Vitamin C. A simple trick to ensure a constant supply of Vitamin C is to slip a few slices of lemon into a large jug or bottle of water (make sure you change the lemon each day) that your family drinks from. Lemon is a great addition to rasam both for flavour and its health properties. It's best to add the juice of half or one lemon (depending on the portion size) to a rasam as soon as you cook it and take it off the stove(to cut the bitter taste).
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.