Indian Food & Beverages Offer a Host of Health Benefits and Keep You Warm this Winter

As the winter air grows colder and we crave comfort foods that keep us warm, Indian food and beverages are a good go-to. Thanks to a growing diversity of cultures and cuisines all around the US, Indian cuisine has secured a special spotlight in Americans’ tummies. Not only is Indian cuisine flavorfully delicious, but it’s also beneficially nutritious. With a “namaste” nod to savory spices, often combining curry with turmeric, ginger, and black pepper, you’ll keep inflammation at bay and boost your overall health. 

HEALTH BENEFITS OF INDIAN SPICES

In addition to masala spices like those used in chai black tea, other popular Indian spices include turmeric, ginger, coriander, fenugreek, cumin (aka jira), nutmeg, mustard seeds, saffron, and chili. Many Indian spices are antioxidant-rich, fighting harmful free radicals to prevent cell damage and early aging, as well as immune-boosting to help prevent illnesses and diseases. 

Health benefits of Indian spices are plentiful, with specific properties characteristic to each. With anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin in turmeric has been found to improve arthritis, boost cognitive function with a potentially positive impact on Alzheimer’s, and reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. Some of fenugreek’s health benefits include regulating blood sugar, improving metabolism, reducing heartburn, and maintaining weight. Rich in iron, cumin has proven effective in improving neurological conditions and mental illness, inflammatory conditions, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and infertility. 

HEALTH BENEFITS OF INDIAN FOOD INGREDIENTS 

Some of the healthy ingredients in Indian dishes include beans (chana), legumes (daal), chickpeas/garbanzo cauliflower (gobi), potatoes (aloo), chili peppers, eggplant, and basmati rice. Beans contain cancer-combating nutrients, high in fiber, folate, and phytochemicals (flavonoids, inositol, and sterols). Research has shown that diets high in legumes are associated with a lower risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene, chili peppers found in so many Indian dishes contain capsaicin, found in animal studies to inhibit development of some cancers. 

Care for a perfect pairing of Indian dishes with a beverage that boldly boasts bountiful benefits?  Masala chai black tea has risen to stardom as a favorite tea among tea lovers and Indian cuisine lovers alike. 

ORANGE GINGER TURMERIC MASALA CHAI BLACK TEA BLEND

Ingredients:

3-4 teaspoons or 3-4 tea bags Black Tea (e.g., Assam, Keemun, English or Irish Breakfast tea)

¾ teaspoon powdered or grated ginger

¾ teaspoon orange zest

¾ teaspoon powdered or grated turmeric (aka haldi)

¾ teaspoon cinnamon powder or 3 cinnamon sticks (aka dalchini)

½ Tablespoon whole cardamom pods

4-5 whole star anise

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Stevia, honey, or maple syrup, to taste 

Milk or cream, as desired 

Instructions:

  1. Combine ingredients into a pot.
  2. Add water to pot or electric kettle and boil.
  3. Stir regularly and consider adding stevia, honey, or maple syrup, and milk or cream, as desired, or to each individual cup.
  4. Pour into a French press or pour through a tea strainer into individual mugs. 

INDIAN CURRY SAUCE (ONION TOMATO BHUNA MASALA)

This is a good guideline recipe that you can easily adapt as a basis for Indian sauces, swapping out any veggies and spices as you like. You can also add other protein options, if you prefer, like chicken, fish, or tofu. 

Ingredients:

Onions 

Tomatoes 

Garbanzo beans/chickpeas

Cauliflower

Potatoes 

Ginger

Garlic 

*Spices 

Coconut milk

Masala chai black tea 

EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) 

*Basic Indian spice combination may include ground coriander, turmeric and red chili powder. Add whichever spices in whichever combination you prefer. 

Instructions: 

  1. Chop veggies and meat, fish, or tofu.
  2. Add a dollop of EVOO to a large saucepan on medium heat. Cook hard veggies first (potatoes and cauliflower), gradually adding in other veggies and chickpeas/garbanzo beans as the harder veggies soften.
  3. Stir masala chai black tea and coconut milk together in a saucepan at medium heat. 
  4. Stir in garlic, ginger, and spices.
  5. Taste test and simmer and serve when ready. 

Recipe adapted from pipingpotcurry.com/indian-curry-sauce-bhuna-masala/

Hope you enjoy these authentic Indian-inspired recipes to your health and happiness! So, “namaste” and “bon appetite,” as you stay warm this winter!

 

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