If you’re looking at striking a balance with your digestive health, this is a must have tea variation that I discovered last year during my Indian adventure. It’s one of my favourite natural medicinal aids I’ve included in my latest book Heal Your Gut and in the HYG four-week online program.
Jeera Vellam is a traditional Ayurvedic tea and Indian household staple beverage, which is consumed on a daily basis by many people. In South India and Egypt in particular, a large pot of Jeera Vellam is usually prepared in the morning and sipped throughout the day. It often replaces drinking water, as tap water cannot be consumed due to heavy pollution and must be boiled carefully.
Jeera is Hindi for cumin, while vellam in this context means water. According to Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old approach to health, agni is the metabolic energy that helps the body assimilate nutrients, eliminate waste, generate warmth, and transform physical matter into energy. At the start of the day, agni is said to be quite low, and Ayurvedic practitioners recommend an easily digestible meal that is warm yet light, followed by a shot of Jeera Vellam. In India, this beverage is also commonly consumed as a shot after main meals and/or after celebrations such as weddings and dinner parties (where guests have indulged in heavy meals) to aid digestion.
Originating in Egypt, cumin seed is one of the most popular cooking ingredients used throughout the Middle East and Asia. The strong flavour, vibrant colour and tepid aroma of cumin has made it an indispensable spice in many Indian and Middle-Eastern dishes, such as curries, marinades, samosas, rice-based meals and even in teas and beverages.
However, these little seeds have a lot more to offer in addition to their vibrant taste and aroma. Traditionally, cumin seeds have been hailed as an effective aid to digestion, and recent research confirms that this may be due to cumin’s ability to stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, compounds that are necessary for digestion and nutrient assimilation. Cumin seeds have also been found to speed up metabolic function.
This Jeera Vellam recipe is also good for promoting liver and stomach health, as the antioxidants present in cumin seeds and ginger promote excretion of toxic substances from your body, while also controlling the regular activities of various vital internal organs. The longer you allow the cumin seeds to soak in the water (if you have time, overnight is preferable), the more this drink will facilitate the production of bile in the liver that may aid with symptoms of reflux, bloating, abdominal gas, and diarrhea.
My digestive aid is even useful in treating acute iron deficiency that is caused during anemia, as cumin seeds are a rich source of plant-based iron. As additional iron is essential for maternal and fetal health during pregnancy, Jeera Vellam is commonly prescribed to pregnant and lactating women in remote Indian villages where medical forms of iron supplementation may be unavailable.
Due to its anti-congestive properties, cumin can promote dilution and discharge of any mucous accumulated in the chest, preventing chest infections. As if that weren’t enough, cumin also has antiseptic properties, helping to kill the micro-organisms that cause the cold and flu in the first place! If you’re not keen on cold and flu tablets, there’s nothing better than a warm cup of Jeera Vellam when you’re rugged up at home with the winter sniffles.
In addition to its amazing nutritional benefits, Jeera Vellam is also the perfect beauty-enhancing elixir. The vitamins and minerals present in cumin (such as calcium, potassium, copper, selenium, and manganese) will nourish your hair from the roots, leaving you with strong, healthy and shiny tassels. Cumin and ginger are also both full of dietary fiber, which helps to rid the body from toxic waste. This means you can use cold Jeera Vellam on your skin as an effective natural cleanser. Due to its high vitamin A, C, and E content, Jeera Vellam is also bursting with antioxidants and can therefore prevent premature aging, leaving you with soft, supple skin.
When paired with the spice and zing of ginger as in this recipe, the earthy taste and aroma of cumin is enhanced.
Test this refreshing, health beverage out for yourself and the good news is, all you need is three ingredients and a few spare minutes!
Cumin Digestive Aid
- 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) filtered water
- 1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2.5 cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin sticks
- Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to
the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and set aside for 2 minutes before straining. Cool
to room temperature and divide between four glasses to serve.