And then I had a brainstorm.
I had been seeing lots of turmeric recipes online and reading about the health benefits of turmeric. I was also thinking about hot pepper tea (and how beneficial the capsaicin in hot peppers is).
This summer we grew habanero peppers for the first time and haven't really known what to do with them. They have a very distinctive flavor that to my taste isn't very pepper-like.
Cut open one of these beautiful peach habaneros and the fragrance is like the fleshy outside of a black walnut. Astringent. Woodsy. Spicy. It was this unusual flavor, more than the hotness, that kept us flummoxed. Other than a failed attempt at adding them to salsa, all I could think to do with them was use them for a subject in my daily sketchbook.
As I thought about turmeric drinks and hot pepper tea, I began to imagine that the flavor of the habaneros would work well with the flavor of turmeric. So I experimented.
I tried a couple different versions and found that the basic idea is very flexible, giving lots of options for different tastes. It's also easy to make the end result less or more hot depending on how long you infuse the pepper (and how many pepper pieces you use). If you don't have habanero peppers you can use a pinch of cayenne instead. If you don't like the heat of peppers, leave them out. The ginger and turmeric are very warming and healing by themselves.
Basic Turmeric, Ginger and Hot Pepper Tea
1-1.5 cups hot water
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ginger (I used frozen)
habanero slices (approximately 1/8" each)
Pour hot water over ginger and turmeric in a mug. Add habanero slices (be conservative to start! Habaneros are very spicy!) and infuse for a couple minutes. Remove pepper and test for hotness, being careful not to breathe in too deeply (the pepper will make you sneeze and may irritate your sinuses). If it's not hot enough for your taste, put the pepper slices back in and infuse longer.
Add honey and lemon juice or honey, cinnamon and a bit of milk (or soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk etc.). I think this would also work well substituting chai or a spicy herbal tea instead of the water.
Be sure to regularly stir as you drink this "tea" to keep the ginger and turmeric suspended in the water (if you don't you'll end up with a paste at the bottom of your mug). The hot pepper will burn or tingle a bit (stop drinking if this becomes too severe) which I found very soothing, relieving the pain in my throat.
I felt so much better each time I had some and I think I'll probably keep experimenting with different flavor combinations.
What about you? What natural cold and flu remedies do you turn to when you're under the weather? Do you have a favorite way to use turmeric or habaneros?