Ayurvedic Recipes for Managing Colds & Coughs

Ayurveda uses herbs and spices to balance the body's various elements. For example, if your body is too hot or cold, you might try eating foods with cooling properties like cucumbers or mint leaves for relief from discomfort. If your mind feels sluggish or foggy, you might eat foods with energizing properties like ginger root or peppermint leaves to get things moving again.

For the winter, Ayurveda recommends a variety of herbs, spices and oil to balance Vata & Kapha - an excess of which lead to colds, and congestion in the chest and nasal cavities.

Cloves: The abundant anti-inflammatory properties of cloves can be helpful when suffering from a sore throat, a cough, or other respiratory ailments. You can consume 1-2 raw cloves by chewing on them, combining them with hot water, and drinking them in the morning, or even adding them to your cup of chai! Cloves are effective expectorants and their oil is frequently used to open congested nasal passages.

Cardamom: Cardamom is used in Ayurveda as an effective treatment for congestion and other respiratory problems typically brought on by mucus buildup in the respiratory tract. Cardamom works by balancing Kapha in the body and aids in clearing the lungs of built-up mucus. The main medicinal constituents of cardamom are volatile oils that have antibacterial properties and act as expectorants (they help clear mucus from the lungs). Cardamoms can also be chewed by themselves, or the seeds ground up and added to your favorite warm beverage.

Black pepper: In the winter, black pepper is one of the greatest Indian spices to add to soups and warming drinks, especially if you have a cold or chest congestion. Black pepper balances both vata and kapha, and is also believed to aid in the metabolism of turmeric, another Ayurvedic anti-inflammatory star ingredient for boosting immunity. 

Holi Basil: No Ayurvedic cold-cough management round-up would be complete without the mention of Tulsi (also Tulasi, Holy Basil). Holy Basil has been used as a remedy for cough and cold since ancient times and almost all of Tulsi's components, including the seeds, leaves, and roots, have been utilized both internally and externally for therapeutic purposes. A tea made with fresh Tulsi leaves is very commonly used as an Ayurvedic elixir to manage a variety of conditions, but dried tulsi leaves can be used as a substitute when fresh leaves are not accessible.

Here are some quick & easy recipes to integrate these ingredients into your diet.

Good ol' Golden Milk

  • 1 cup milk (either cow's milk or substitutes that are vegan).
  • 1 tsp. of turmeric powder
  • Fresh ginger
  • Black pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon


  • Bring milk to a simmer.
  • While frequently whisking, add in the ingredients, and continue to heat for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • After taking off the heat, adjust the ingredients for flavor and add a natural sweetener to taste.

Find other great spins on Golden Milk with Alia Dalal and read about why we love Golden Milk here.

A Super-Simple Ayurvedic Tonic: Kadha

Add 1 tsp. each fresh (or dry) tulsi leaves, black pepper, turmeric and fresh ginger to 2 cups of boiling water, and continue to boil until reduced to a cup. Remove from heat, and let cool to drinkable temperature. Drink while still hot. Honey can be added after the tonic has cooled.

Thukpa (a Tibetan/ Nepalese delicacy)


  • 1 tablespoon sesame or coconut oil (in India, mustard oil is oft used; FDA does not recommend mustard oil for internal consumption in the USA)
  • 2 spring onion (bulb & greens) finely chopped 
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • ½ cup broccoli florets
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder (Jeera)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, ideally freshly pounded; can be substituted for ground black pepper
  • 1 cup spinach leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 radish, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of coriander leaves , chopped
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Noodles of choice, boiled to desired tenderness


  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute till they are translucent.
  • Add the broccoli florets and cook them on low to medium heat until they become soft. Add the cumin powder, soy sauce and pepper. Give it a stir.
  • Add the chopped spinach and radish and saute for a couple of minutes until it gets combined into the spice. 
  • Cover the pan and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes on low heat, until the radish and spinach get cooked through. To this add 3 cups of water and bring the Thukpa to a brisk boil.
  • Add this point add in your semi-boiled noodles.
  • Finally, add salt and lemon juice to taste and give it a stir. Turn off the heat. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve it hot.

Find other kapha-balancing, winter-warming recipes here.

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