Kashayam: South Indian Herbal Tea / Concoction

    Flu season is at its peak. Everyone known to me is down with cold and dry cough. Cold viruses and bacteria have been our regular guests since the time my son started pre-school. We have been a bad host and we try our best to kick their butts out so we don’t have them pay a visit again. My son brings in the new strain every time and we try new herbal cocktails each time to make their stay short.

    I grew up in a home where my mom trusts on Ayurvedic medicines and my dad blindly follows the allopathic regime. I was always torn between the two approach. Over the months I lived in England, a cold country known for its rain and snow, I nourished by body with a spoon of “Chawanprash” (Ayurvedic health paste) every single day. I would religiously take a spoon on a empty stomach and gulp it down with a glass of warm milk. Even though the weather was chilly, I rarely infected myself with common cold or fever. My trust with Ayurvedic medicines grew stronger over the years.

    During this flu season, my family is sick with running nose and sore throat. We have been drinking a lot of warm water and soup. Apart from that, I made a spicy good concoction with few herbs I brought from India. It is called “Kashayam” in my mother tongue, Tamil. This is a South Indian home remedy that has been in practice for generations together. Since common cold is a viral infection, the best known treatment is to flush it out of the body by drinking ample fluids. If you or some known in your family is suffering for a longer period of time, it is best to contact your family care physician. This drink will work for regular running nose and sore throat but if there is a medical emergency, please contact your doctor.

    When in health trouble, Sukku (dry ginger), Milagu (black pepper corns) and Thippili (Indian long pepper) are three magic mantra my grandmom and mom taught me. My grandmother would sing a poem about it so we don’t the cooking steps. I should ask for the lyrics on my next call.

    Ginger has been used for thousands of years in Chinese and Indian medicine to treat stomach issues and cold. Peppercorns as you all know if a good way to boost your body with immunity. I use a lot of peppercorns in my cooking. We make rasam with it and do you remember my cumin-peppercorn rice to kick start the winter? Finally thippili, it is efficient to treat phlegm and is very good for common cold and sore throat. For common cold, a smooth powder of dry ginger-peppercorns-Indian long pepper are boiled in water and taken with honey two to three time a day. It helps to loosen musuc and expels it out of your system.

    I believe in herbal medicine as they are natural with minimum side effects. Using ingredients like ginger and mint leaves, also cleanses the toxins from the liver. You could take over the counter medicines like  Rhinostat or Crocin but I feel uncomfortable to stuff my body with those meds when I have alternate choices. I do visit doctor when my symptom worsens but to start with, I rely on kitchen remedy. Gladly, I have recovered from cold or stomach ailments within 3 days of starting my folk cures. This practice is called as “Patti Vaidhiyam”, “Kai Vaidhiyam” or “Nattu Vaidhiyam” in Tamil. This drink can be taken by adults and kids over the age of 2. I started giving it to my son around 1.5 years. I started with 1 teaspoon of the drink and nothing more. He now takes about 3-5 tablespoon. I make  a strong concoction and dilute it with 1 cup hot water and I drink it like tea with honey and mint leaves.

    We drink it once (two times – monring and night) every 2 weeks to build immunity and if you are drinking this while down with cold/cough, then drink it twice daily for three days.

    The kashayam powder can be bought in Indian Herbal Stores. I sometime buy a packet from my trip to India.


    Source: My grandmother
    Yields: 2 cups


    • 1 teaspoon Black pepper corns
    • 1 tablespoon Coriander seeds
    • 3-4 small pieces thipili (Indian Herb available in Natural Medicine stores)
    • 1 tablespoon Sukku or dry ginger powder
    •  1 teaspoon honey
    • 2 cups water
    • 10 mint leaves


    1. Dry roast them separately. Cool and grind to a smooth powder. Store in air tight containers for future use.
    2. Boil 2 cups water on medium high flame. Once they reach a rolling boil, add 1 teaspoon of this herbal powder and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Place 3-4 mint leaves and pour the steamy “kashayam” and let the mint leaves wilt like spinach. Add a dollop of honey and drink it warm twice a day.

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    1. Nothing to beat these no-fuss, no-chemical home remedies..need to make some today..using your recipe this time.

    2. Very interesting and informative post Viji 🙂 I also like Ayurveda… Thanks for sharing your grandma’s home remedies :))

    3. I have no idea how this taste but i like the ingredients went it! Hope you guys are feeling better now.

    4. I totally understand the preschool and germs connection! 🙂 When my son started preschool it was worse than now. I think he got sick enough that he’s pretty strong now (1st grade) but my daughter in preschool is suffering! Always someone (including teachers) is sick. I’d love to taste this. I like this kind of traditional remedies than Western medicine sometimes.

    5. Hope you guys are feeling better!
      I’m loving this tea here, my grandmom use to make something similar when we use to get sick.
      Living ur beautiful brass spoon and container, it’s gorgeous. .

    6. Viji,

      Can relate to everything you said about home remedies in this post. And glad to read about “Nati vaidhyam”.
      My great aunt was an expert and we do the same in our household too..
      I was always told that Honey is to be added only in warm liquids and not hot as it could turn toxic (in ayurvedic sense).

      Will try your version sometime.

    7. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe and age-old wisdom. I was wondering, is it okay to take this drink in a hot and humid weather as well. Or is too warm for the body ? I live in tropics and hence, the question.

      • Sivee, Great question. Kashayam produces heat so don’t over do it. Just two times a day for 3 days when you are sick. If you are doing to build immunity or cleanse your tummy, then do it like this twice a month (every 15 days) just a little about 50 ml. We drink it once in the morning and once at night every 15 days or so.

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