Today I'm thinking about recipes of a different kind, since my son has fallen ill with a bad throat infection. Lots of times, we tend to dismiss home remedies as just old wives tales or superstitious claptrap. I'm far from the superstitious type myself, and used to view a lot of things I heard from my grandmother as just a 'grandma's story'. However, after my son was born, I realised that some of these things may have a) some truth; and b) some efficacy, to them. 'There are more things in this world, Horatio...'
One of the things my husband and I now firmly believe in is nazar or 'drishti' as we south indians call it. There has never been a single occasion, from my son's first birthday party to the first time he swam or a school performance or even a long lost friend exclaiming over his photograph, of apppreciation of either his looks or his ability not resulting in an immediate illness. It sounds weird to hear two MBA types swearing by something as illogical and arcane as nazar, but we're both firmly convinced that some kids tend to attract it. It's now normal behaviour on our part to put a 'kala tika' (black mark) behind his ear or to get one of his grandmas to do a nazar utaaro ceremony every few days, because whenever we have failed to do so and exposed him to the world without that protection, he's fallen ill!
Anyway, one really good posset to brew up for a sore throat is as follows:
Good handful tulsi (holy basil) leaves
Handful of plain basil leaves
10 black peppercorns
2 inch piece of licorice root
2 inch piece of cinnamon bark
2 cups water
Boil all these things together on a slow flame for about 15 minutes. Add a teaspoon of honey and serve warm. It soothes the throat and many of these ingredients are also used in many herbal cough syrups. You can reheat and serve this till the water is finished. Serve only the liquid. For grownups, you can add a tot of rum - perks them up and cures the throat!
For a child under 5 years, with a runny nose, try this. My uncle and aunt apparently used it on all their kids and it works magic with mine too.
Take a teaspoon of warm milk. Add 3-4 strands of saffron to it and let the milk absorb the saffron for an hour or so till it thickens a bit. Dab a drop or two of the milk on the child's nose. He/ she will have a bright yellow nose but the runniness will stop. Repeat every half hour or so, and in a couple of hours, the kiddo will let out an almighty sneeze which is pretty much the end of the cold!