Learn how to make Kashaya or Kashayam ~ Sweet and spicy herbal drink made using selected aromatic spices based on the ancient Indian health science of Ayurveda
I grew up in a joint family for the first 6 years of my life. When I was born, my first cousin was in his mid twenties while the youngest one was in his late teens. So it was not difficult for a chubby baby girl with jet black hair and cheeks that resembled a generous sized Idli to make every other person in our family to dance just by shaking my little fingers. I was pampered and a spoilt brat who had many people falling on my chubby feet for the first 22 months of my life. And then my exclusive control on everyone’s attention and being centre of everyone’s universe came to sudden halt!
Kashaya/Kashayam ~ Your anytime herbal drink
I had a new rival in a form of wriggling bald headed newborn who had chubbier cheeks than my own! All she needed to do was cry out loud and all the women in our family along with my Amma were seen leaving all their work and running to pacify this creature. I was angry and jealous and wanted my Amma to send her back to the hospital where she was supposedly picked up by parents as my playmate. This creature with wrinkled face and loud voice was driving me nuts with all the attention she received from everyone and became the new attraction to every guest who came bearing gifts to her.
Inspite of everyone doting on new arrival, there was one person in my life whose face lit up every time I lifted my arms to be carried and cuddled. Head full of snowy white hair, white veshti and white thin cottoned half sleeved shirt, ready smile on his wrinkled fair complexioned face complimented by blood red coloured ruby studs sparking in his ear lobes and thick blacked rimmed eye glasses covering twinkling and mischievous eyes were his trademarks. He was my paternal grandfather my childhood hero and my saviour from wrath of my mother when she figured out it was me who hid my sister’s toys and baby cloths or pinched her hard on her delicate buttery soft thighs.
Perfect drink for cold days ~ Kashaya
In a family full of boys, I was my Ajja’s centre of universe. My Amma fondly recalls how he carried me around in his arms, covering my head with thin cotton shawl when he took a walk in our estate instructing the estate workers. It was his chest that became my warm bed in the afternoons and we both slept peacefully on his planter’s chair in cool shade of open veranda overlooking the areca nut and coconut palms swaying to cool breeze. When I started to walk as early as at 10 months of taking small wobbly steps on the 2 feet wide red oxide seat that ran around the house on four sides, it was my Ajja who became my walking companion. He walked right next to me making sure than I didn’t fell from the steep steps or bumped my head into pillars around the veranda. He made me smile, he told me many stories, he was my baby sitter when my parents went for a day out, he was my partner in crime when we sneaked into kitchen to steal a piece of sweet jaggery, and he was my first playmate who always made time to play with me.
It was from this simple man leading simple life, even while surrounded by luxury, I have inherited my love for simple food habit. I remember my Ajja’s love for 3 simple foods, Avalakki, Rosematta Ganji and Kashaya which happen to be my Dad’s favourite too! :) These two men, so alike in looks and their action have always loved and preferred simple food that nourishes the body and soul. Whenever my Ajja drank a glass of Kashaya, a type of herbal drink, I always got a sip or two. At times when hot beverage meant coffee, tea, or almond milk, Kashaya was always the preferred drink by most people in my family for its health benefits and taste.
Roasted spices ready for grinding
This sweet herbal drink with a mild heat from black peppercorns was always favoured above tea or coffee by both my Ajja and Appa and soon I too was hooked to this drink till I turned old enough to say no to any food that was considered healthy! The ‘wow’ drink of my childhood became ‘eww’ drink of my teenage years when my Amma tried to make me drink it whenever I fell sick. It was not until I became pregnant with Lil Dumpling and went through the morning sickness phase all through my pregnancy; I was forced to switch my morning tall cup of coffee to Kashaya. Drinking Kashaya not only helped me build my immune system, it always helped me get over the nausea and heartburns. Post pregnancy, with few modifications, my Amma made me drink same Kashaya as the ingredients used were very rich in iron which is considered good for lactating mothers. These days, except for the half cup of coffee in the morning with my breakfast, my most preferred drink is the same Kashayam whenever I feel the need to drink some hot beverage.
There are many versions of making the Kashaya Powder using different ingredients and measurements. While my aunties used cloves and/or cardamoms for flavour and warmth, my maternal grand mother included dry turmeric roots for beautiful colour. The recipe below is from my Amma who uses basic spices like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black peppercorns. I have added a small piece of dry ginger root to the Kashaya Powder just like my MIL as I like the pungent flavour it imparts. Here is the main health benefits of different spices used in making Kashaya Powder and I hope you will find the following information useful.
Jeera/Cumin Seeds: Native to Egypt, these unassuming cumin seeds have nutty peppery flavour and are one of the extensively used spices in Indian subcontinents. Antiseptic property of cumin makes it one of the best natural ingredients to help fight flue and common cold by boosting our immune system. In India you will find people popping colourful sugar coated cumin seeds after heavy meals as cumin seeds works well for digestive disorders. During my post natal days my mother added a spoonful of cumin seeds along with methi or fenugreek seeds while cooking Rosematta (Kerala Red Rice) Ganji (Kanji or Congee) as cumin seeds are rich in iron and thus very good for lactating mothers.
Dhania/Coriander Seeds: Native to south-eastern Europe, with its lemony, citrusy flavour when crushed, coriander seeds with its dietary fibres is excellent appetizer as well as aids in digestion. Back in India the coriander seeds are used as home remedy to sooth acidity, clear toxins from body as well as help in clearing phlegm and nasal congestion.
Saunf/Fennel Seeds: Native to south Europe, sweet anise flavoured fennel seeds are one of the nine Anglo-Saxon sacred herbs for its health benefits. It is common practice in Indian subcontinent to chew fennel seeds after meals as it not only aids in digestion but also acts as a mouth freshener. Due to its anti acidic properties, fennel is extensively used in antacid preparation. Fennel is most popular as anti flatulent and it is considered quite safe to give it infants to expel stomach gases.
Kaali Mirch/Kappu Menasu/Black Peppercorns
Black Pepper: Native to southern Indian state of Kerala, from ancient times black peppercorns have found important place in treating respiratory conditions like asthma as well as reliving from cough and cold. While the antibacterial property of black peppercorns helps to fight infections, its antioxidant properties have been found beneficial in preventing and repairing the damage caused by free radicals. A concoction of honey mixed in a brew of generous pinch of black pepper powder with holy basil leaves and lime juice is what our most trusty medicine to relive from sinusitis and nasal congestion. The outer black layer of peppercorns assists in breakdown of fat cells and is helpful in shedding weight. Apart from aiding us to shed weight, peppercorns are good for stomach and helps in digesting fatty foods.
Dry Ginger: Native to India, ginger is most used herb in Indian cuisine due to its digestive properties. With its peculiar hot and pungent taste attributed to the presence Gingerol, an acrid compound, ginger is one of the best remedies for indigestion, and reliving many stomach problems. The dry ginger was my best friend throughout my pregnancy where I experienced nausea and morning sickness 24/7 for all 9 months! Due to its antiseptic and carminative properties, ginger is extensively used in treating food poisoning. Ginger is considered to be good expectorant from ancient times and is most effective in treating various respiratory problems like cold, flu, cough, asthma, bronchitis and breathlessness.
Kashaya or Kashayam
Every time I assign myself with a task of preparing spice powders, I make sure that I have enough time on hand as the whole process of roasting the spices is not short of experiencing some magical and sacred! The large glass jars storing colourful and aromatic whole spices from the pantry find themselves sitting in a row on kitchen worktop. Next comes the measuring cups and spoons and my treasured cast iron skillet. The cast iron skillet is wiped clean with a kitchen towel and is heated on a low flame until it is hot to touch. Then one spice after another is roasted on a lowest flame till their colour deepens and their perfume spread in my kitchen and teases my senses. This roasting spices is very sacred and something that cannot be rushed. These spices are like small children and they need your constant attention. If you get distracted or take your eyes away for a moment, they will burn and turn bitter and ruin the taste. So make sure that you have enough time on hand when you dive into the task of preparing spice powders.
Sweet with a hint of heat ~ Kashaya
Once roasted they are allowed to cool and then crushed to powder along with dry ginger root in my trusty 8 year old Indian mixer grinder. Again, you don’t rush the grinding process of the spices for long time as the essential oils in the spice powder will release moisture contents and this moisture content will reduce the shelf life of the spice powder. So you grind the powders for short intervals, something like for 12-15 seconds, mix them gently with a help of a spoon to aerate and then grind them again for couple of seconds. Once you are done grinding the spice powders to desired consistency, you will have to allow them to cool before storing them in an air tight container devoid of any moisture. That’s it! The Kashaya Powder will stay fresh for 1-1½ months in room temperature and around 2½ months when popped in refrigerator. Mine doesn’t last for more than 3 weeks.
Take a sip and feel better ~ Kashaya
When ever I feel like drinking some hot drink, I just boil a cupful of water and add 1 heaped tsp of Kashaya Powder with a tbsp of jaggery. I prefer to use jaggery (unrefined cane sugar) to white sugar as that’s the way my taste buds remembers drinking Kashaya since I was toddler. Feel free to substitute jaggery with brown or white sugar in case you can’t get hold of jaggery. I usually add about ¼ cup of milk when making my cup of Kashaya where as my dad prefers his without milk and my mom adds a couple of tea spoons of milk into her herbal drink. Again add more or less quantity of milk depending on your preference and bring the whole mix to boil before turning off the gas. Sometimes depending on my mood I add a pinch of cardamom powder to enhance the flavour. if I am suffering from bad case of cold or throat infection, I add about 1/8 tsp of Turmeric powder which is a good antiseptic and gives relief to itchy throat. There are many other ingredients which my mother adds to boiling water along with Kashaya powder based on the seasons and illness like Tulsi (holy basil leaves), honey (just added before serving), Jeshta maddu (medicinal plant to relive from chesty cough), turmeric, lemon juice to name few!
Consider Kashaya or Kashayam as magic potions that can cure nagging cold, chesty coughs, lose of appetite, clear sinuses and nausea. But above all Kashayam is really wonderful and healthy substitute for caffeine loaded drinks. Give a try and see if you like it. If you are anything like my sister, it may take 2-3 times before you really start to enjoy a cup of Kashaya. And if you are anything like my brother, it may take 2-3 years before you start it realise how good it actually is! ;)
Ingredients for Kashaya
Roasted spices for Kashaya Powder
Kashaya or Kashayam (Sweet and spicy herbal drink made using selected aromatic spices based on the ancient Indian health science of Ayurveda)
Prep Time: 10–15 mins (To make Kashaya Powder)
Cooking Time: 3-4 mins (To make Kashaya drink)
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Low to Medium
Makes: About 1½ cups of Kashaya Powder
Recipe Source: My Amma
Shelf Life: About 1½ months at room temperaure and 3 months in refrigerator in an air tight container
Serving Suggestion: Any time healthy drink
Ingredients: (For Kashaya Powder)
1 cup Dhania/Coriander Seeds
1/3 cup Jeera/Cumin Seeds
¼ cup Saunf/Fennel Seeds
1-2 heaped tbsp Black Pepper Corns (Adjust as per taste)
1-2 cm Dry Ginger (Optional)
Ingredients: (For Kashaya Drink for one)
1 heaped tsp Kashaya Powder
¼ cup Milk (Add more or less based on your preference)
1 cup Water
½-1 tbsp Jaggery/Brown Sugar/White Sugar (Adjust as per taste)
A pinch of Cardamom or Turmeric Powder (Optional)
Kashaya Powder ~ A herbal and Ayurvedic drink powder
To Prepare Kashaya Powder:
- Dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and peppercorns separately for a 1-1½ minutes on a low flame till the heady aroma of roasted spices fills your home! Make sure that you don’t over do it and burn the spices. The coriander seeds will take about 1½ minutes while the fennel and cumin seeds will not take more than 1¼ minutes for roasting.
- Spread the roasted spices on a wide plate and let them cool down completely. This is an important step and make sure that you cool the roasted spices to room temperature.
- Grind all these roasted spices along with dry ginger root if using to medium fine powder.
- Store this aromatic Kashaya Powder in an air tight jar. It stays fresh at room for about a month and a half. You can pop in a fridge and it will stay fresh for around 2 and half months.
To Prepare Kashaya Drink:
- Take 1 cup of water in a sauce pan and bring it to boil. Once the water comes to boil, mix in 1 heaped tsp of Kashaya Powder and jaggery or white/brown sugar to taste.
- Let it boil for half a minute and mix in ¼ cup of milk along with cardamom/cinnamon/turmeric powder if using. Switch off the flame and let it rest for 1 minute for the flavours to infuse.
- Strain the Kashaya through fine sieve and drink it while hot. Enjoy this cup of goodness at any time of the day!
Kashaya ~ Indian sweet and spicy herbal drink
- Spices are roasted separately one at a time on a lowest flame till their colour deepens and their perfume spread in my kitchen and teases my senses. If you get distracted or take your eyes away for a moment, they will burn and turn bitter and ruin the taste. So make sure that you have enough time on hand when you dive into the task of preparing spice powders.
- Let the roasted spices cool down completely before grinding them in a coffee grinder or sturdy mixer grinder.
- Don’t rush the grinding process of the spices for long time as the essential oils in the spice powder will release moisture contents and this moisture content will reduce the shelf life of the spice powder. So you grind the powders for short intervals, something like for 12-15 seconds, mix them gently with a help of a spoon to aerate and then grind them again for couple of seconds.
- Once you are done grinding the spice powders to desired consistency, you will have to allow them to cool before storing them in an air tight container devoid of any moisture.
- The Kashaya Powder will stay fresh for 1-1½ months in room temperature and around 2½ months when popped in refrigerator. Mine doesn’t last for more than 3 weeks.
- Feel free to substitute jaggery with brown or white sugar in case you can’t get hold of jaggery.
- Add more or less quantity of milk depending on your preference. I like mine little milky and hence use around ¼ cup of milk.