Feed a Fever

Milagu Rasam

"Pepper is for colds and coughs, and turmeric heals wounds," says cookbook author Viji Varadarajan. In his native South India, milagu rasam, a broth made with those key ingredients, also includes a dose of tamarind, which is believed to help heal sore throats. See the recipe for Milagu Rasam »Todd Coleman

My favorite Indian food is sabudana khichdi, a mild tapioca dish. When I visit my friend Nisha, who is from New Delhi, it's what I ask her to cook. She doesn't get why I wouldn't rather eat something celebratory, like meaty biriyani. Khichdi, she says, is for when your nose is so stuffed that you can't taste. But the way I see it, because the foods we eat when we're sick are so comforting, they're also some of the most enticing. From starchy grains to aromatic broths, what we turn to at our worst are also great when we're at our best. Every cuisine seems to have its own version.