While in India I tried many types of foods but there was always a constant after every meal. A tray with fennel seeds would be brought to the table before the check. There was plain fennel seeds, sugar coated fennel seeds, and a small bowl of rock sugar to chew with the plain seeds. Fennel has a licorice taste to it so I believed it was offered as a breath freshener. But there is more. Fennel seeds contain estragole, and anethole. These substances have antioxidant, digestive and anti-flatulent properties. A great way to end a meal. If chewing seeds is not your thing, try tea.
A beautiful and naturally sweet tea I sampled in India contained cinnamon, cardamom and saffron. Cinnamon improves digestion and absorption of nutrients. Cardamom activates the secretion of digestive enzymes and contains chemicals that are known to increase the movement of food through the intestine. Saffron is believed to have pain-relieving properties and antispasmodic properties that help provide relief from stomach pain caused by bloating.
Ginger is well known for its ability to combat nausea. Ginger also promotes the elimination of intestinal gas and soothes the intestinal tract. I had both hot and cold ginger lemon tea while in India. The key is to use fresh ginger. I was very careful with food and cleanliness while in India and I also loaded up with all the herbs I’ve mentioned here. And thankfully I never encountered the dreaded Delhi Belly.
Kashmiri Tea with Saffron
▪ 3 cups water
▪ 1 cinnamon stick
▪ 4 to 5 saffron threads
▪ 3 bruised cardamom pods
▪ Honey, to taste
Put water and spices in pan and bring to a boil- Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes
Ginger Tea with Lemon
▪ 2 cups of water
▪ 2 inch piece of ginger sliced
▪ Juice of half a lemon
▪ Honey to taste
Combine the water and ginger in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice and let steep at least 20 minutes.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.