What Are “Thanda” And “Garam” Foods And Why Are Pakistanis So Obsessed With Them?

By Manahil | 27 Apr, 2019

So, I’m sure you guys have all heard “anday na khao, garmi zyaada lagegi” especially in the summer. Ever wonder why? The whole discussion started on Reddit, when a certain post basically brought up this question about what really are “thanda” and “garam” foods. And of course, why are all Pakistanis obsessed with them? I mean it can’t be just a shared superstition between all brown moms… Right?

You’ll be surprised to know it does have some solid scientific basis, even though those who advise you may not really know why exactly they’re saying it – other than the sole reason that they’ve heard from others. But no biggie, next time you hear about it, you’ll know the whole back story.

source: organicfacts.net

Compiling different research, I’ve come to a conclusion:

Whatever you take in your body, must have some sort of effect. Well, one of those effects may be thermogenesis – or what we refer to as thanda or garam. So if the certain food/spice causes our body to increase its temperature we’ll refer it to as garam. And if it causes our body temperature to decrease, even slightly, we’ll refer to that certain food as thanda. 

A professor and food scientist at Washington State University, Barry Swanson, talked about which foods can increase your body temperature, and which ones keep it down. He said, “Cold foods are perceived as cooling down the body, and often they do, but spicy foods do the same. Spicy foods and cool foods just work in different ways and do different things.”

But you’re all still probably wondering – how? Well, to help explain, I’m going to use four examples of thanda foods, that’ll really cool down your body:

Take notes, summer is right around the corner!

1. Watermelon

We don’t just eat watermelon in the summer, just because season hai. Watermelon has high water content, and as a general rule of thumb, the higher the water content in a food, the more likely it will keep your temperature down. It also slows down digestion and takes less energy from the body. Hence, it’ll keep you thanda throughout the summer.

source: sandiegoseedcompany.com

2. Green Tea

Unlike most teas, including chai, green tea is classified as a having a thanda taseer because it’s easily digested and therefore requires less energy from the body.

source: bbcgoodfood.com

3. Rice

It’s not just a coincidence that people living in southeast Asia consume large amounts of rice. Basmati rice is the king of all rice. It’s actually super easy to digest, and it is nourishing for the body tissues. Even deserts made with rice, including kheer are known to have a cooling effect on the body.

source: feastingathome.com

4. Yogurt

Yogurt, as you may have noticed, is pretty common in the summertime. We even tend to drink lassi during Ramadan to keep us cool. Freshly-made yogurt is filled with tons of beneficial bacteria that help digestion and kill harmful viruses. But like most products, it’s better when fresh. Most of the advantageous effects of yogurt are lost in store-bought versions.

source: recipes.mercola.com

Now, to explain the flip side, I have four examples of garam foods, that’ll really heat up your body:

(Don’t eat too many of these in one go, it’ll cause problems in your digestion and may lead to acidity and abdominal discomfort amongst other effects).

1. Black Pepper

Like most spices, it has garam taseer. It’s widely used as in seasoning, it supplies oxygen to the brain and is equally good for cough & cold while enhancing digestion.

source: spicejungle.com

2. Honey

It’s known to be warm in nature and is much more than just any old sweetener. It’s actually a wonder food and provides warmth to your entire body. I’m sure you guys have taken honey if you’ve had a sore throat or a sinus infection. It’s highly beneficial for treating a cold as well as stomach-related issues.

source: medicalnewstoday.com

3. Mango

 You’re probably surprised to see this one in the garam category since its a summer staple. But mangoes stimulate your liver & metabolism, giving your energy levels a boost. And they’re great for your skin as well!

source: medicalnewstoday.com

4. Turmeric

It’s a key spice in all curries. It comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. Turmeric has garam asr and improves blood circulation while helping in digestion.

source: lifespa.com

Following the principles of ayurvedic medicine, it’s super important to not eat any of these types of foods in excess. Eating too much of either thanda or garam foods will definitely cause some sort of imbalance in your digestive system, and it may spread to other systems, causing cold and cough. Balance is key.

Hope this finally helps you decipher between the two. Is there anything we missed? Comment away and let us know.


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Cover image via organicfacts.net

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