In India, we use garam masala (which translates to ‘hot spice’) all through the cold months. The masala is a combination of beneficial spices that have been lightly roasted and powdered together. It is stirred into curries and sprinkled on rice, so that its time-tested benefits can protect us from colds, coughs, aching joints and other winter woes.
The spices that come together to make garam masala are stars in their own right. Here’s a quick look at their winter-friendly benefits:
Cloves: while cloves are beneficial all year round, in winter they improve blood circulation, clear the respiratory passages, and keep your digestive system healthy during the holiday season, too. Add a clove or two to ‘gas-causing’ foods such as cauliflower and beans, and your stomach will stay calm. They taste great in pies and puddings, too.
Cardamom: this fragrant, warming spice heals the respiratory tract, keeps all three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) balanced, and keeps you feeling energetic. Enjoy it in tea, pop a pod of it when cooking rice, or add it to baked squash or pumpkin soup.
Black pepper: the incredible benefits of this wonder spice are actually too many to list, but in winter, you’ll find it a great aid to battling chest congestion, boosting appetite, improving digestion, and protecting you from the lurking army of germs and pollutants. Grate it over pasta, grind and sprinkle it on soups, and add it to your grills and bakes for a peppery kick.
Cumin seeds: roast a spoonful of cumin seeds in a pan, and its divine aroma will stimulate your tastebuds—this is the first step toward good digestion. Cumin has been used for centuries to cure colds and treat coughs. This earthy, flavorful spice maintains reproductive health and is also a powerful disinfectant.
Cinnamon: this one, of course, is no surprise. Winter is unimaginable without it, but while you love its delicate, sweet fragrance, it’s always good to know that cinnamon brings relief from arthritis, keeps the brain sharp, fights bacteria and lowers bad cholesterol.