‘Tis the season for sore throats, aches and pains (apparently!). Welcome, January. Hardly any of my friends or colleagues have escaped the lurgy unscathed this month, with most nursing colds or ‘flu of varying degrees.
Inspired by the spices of chai, this warming version of traditional honey and lemon is just the ticket to sip on as the weather grows colder. I adapted this from my mother’s recipe, which she concocted following a trip to India. I have the suspicion her recipe varies a little every time, so it is not a precise science… Whenever anyone develops a sore throat, she whips up an enormous vat of this brew, adding honey instead of sugar to sweeten. She leaves it stewing in the pot all day, reheating it for top-ups and diluting it if it gets too strong.
I must confess, I’m not a fan of star anise, and was initially sceptical about the addition of turmeric and black pepper to my drink. However, when blended with the other spices the star anise adds a lovely depth and is not too dominant, and the turmeric and pepper blend in subtly, adding warmth. For those who share my initial scepticism, do give it a try – you may be pleasantly surprised!
Remove the cardamom pods and crush the seeds to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar. Scrape the skin off the ginger, and finely slice it into small pieces.
Place the cardamom and fresh ginger in a large saucepan, along with the rest of the spices. Pour the water into the saucepan, and cover with a lid. Simmer at a low boil for 20-25 minutes, or until the spices have infused to your liking.
Ladle the liquid into mugs or heatproof glasses, and stir in a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey into each.
Top up throughout the day as and when you need it. If the spices become too strong, dilute with more water.