Celebrity chef Anjula Devi is a champion of authentic and traditional Indian cooking. Winner of a prestigious BBC Good Food bursary, founder of a masala range, Route 207, and owner of a London cookery school, here she shares her recipes for life’s physical and mental challenges
I have been cooking Indian food for 45 years, having been taught by my father, and have used spices as home remedies my entire life – in fact I was 26 before I first used antibiotics. I am a true believer that natural ingredients work, here are some of my favourite spice-based solutions.
1. Ginger, used raw or as a powder (although not as strong), can be used to help digestion, joint pain or to take away nausea. It’s the first thing that most Asian mums and dads turn to when their children have a tummy or head ache, boiling it up with a little honey. If you chew on it you won’t need a paracetamol. It has fantastic nutritional benefits and is a true wonder spice.
2. Turmeric is used in so many beauty treatments. All Asian girls use it on their skin, mixed with gram flour, yoghurt, honey and lemon juice, as a face mask – I’m 51, I don’t have a single wrinkle and although genetics do play their part, I swear that turmeric has helped.
3. Papaya skin should never be wasted! Put it in the freezer until it is solid and then put it on the skin underneath your eyes and it acts like an eyelift. I’ve never shared this secret with anyone but when I do this, friends ask if I’ve had my eyes done as it works to brighten, tighten and lift – it’s amazing.
4. Paprika has so many health benefits. It boosts your metabolism, improves your eyesight and is packed with vitamin A. You can drink it, a pinch mixed with warm water and honey every morning – we tell our children to get it down as it’s so good with health benefits inside and out.
5. Cumin can be used as a substitute for salt which is superb if you are watching your sodium intake. It’s an essential Indian spice and a great source of vitamin B. It’s also great if you’re having trouble sleeping. Dad would always give us a teaspoon mixed in a small glass of hot water, and it was far more effective than counting sheep!
6.Saffron – even a single strand – is fantastic for digestion, reducing inflammation or arthritis and easing pain. Stir it into milk and it turns the liquid orange, then rub it onto your face and leave it for ten minutes and it is wonderful for either dry or teenage acne skin