Spices are what make Indian cooking. Besides giving flavor to Indian dishes, spices carry a lot of antiseptic properties and the reason why they are used in a lot of Ayurvedic medications. While I love adding ajjwain (carom seeds) in the pastry I use for samosa, ajjwain is also perfect for upset stomachs. When mixed with water and boiled, it works as a great remedy for gastritis. Cinnamon is great for cinnamon rolls, but it is also a great anti-oxidant, is anti bacterial, controls blood sugar and has anti-cancer properties.
The award for the most multi-purpose spice though, at least in my dictionary, has to be given to turmeric, or what we Indians call haldi. Besides being a part of most of the Indian dishes we cook, turmeric is also a great healing spice. The anti-inflammatory elements we have always known about for ages, are starting to make rounds with foodies. The spice is trending online right now and is being predicted “super food of the year”.
And rightly so.
Turmeric, which has been used medicinally for over 4,000 years in India, is excellent for arthritis, the skin, digestion, our immune system, and cancer. A recent article by Time of India, mentioned that India’s premier medical institution, AIIMS is now testing alternative therapy that uses turmeric as a treatment for epilepsy.
It’s rich with anti-oxidants, which is why it’s been part of the beauty rituals of Indian women for years now. When I got married, like all other brides-to-be, my skin was rubbed with a mixture of haldi and besan (gram flour). This mixture of haldi and gram flour, results in a clearer, brighter skin and lends the bride-to-be to the perfect glow. Turmeric is an effective treatment for dark circles too. Mix turmeric with buttermilk and apply on your face. Wash, repeat and be amazed. For acne free glowing skin, use this treatment by Farah D for your face.
And while turmeric is excellent as a topical treatment, its real benefits shine when you consume it. So today as part of Garam Masala Tuesdays, I am sharing a recipe for turmeric milk/ haldi doodh. It’s so easy that I kind of feel like I am cheating by calling it a recipe. You can’t call two steps a recipe- can you? Recipe or not, this turmeric drink is a gold mine of health benefits.
The only strife I have with turmeric is that my ladles, white utensils and cloths turn yellow on contact. Recently though I learnt that putting turmeric stained cloth out in the sun for a few hours will remove the stain. Problem solved.
My mom never made haldi doodh for us as children. And in a way I am glad she didn’t. I doubt as children we would have appreciated it- plain turmeric milk is not something that is easily liked by children who are used to sugary chocolate delights. It can be an acquired taste, but once you get used to it, the changes you feel in your body will outweigh any apprehensions you have with this drink.
I got introduced to haldi doodh after I got married. I had gotten a bad cold and my mother-in-law suggested boiling turmeric with milk and drinking it. I made a few changes and added a little cardamom as well – just to improve the taste and the concoction worked as a charm.
While drinking milk with turmeric strengthens your bones and is said to minimize the chances of osteoporosis, it is also an excellent cold remedy. Change of season is always a tricky time and I think the onset of spring is the time one needs to be extra careful and this is where this recipe comes as a winner.
When I spoke to my dad the other day and I was telling him about this post I am doing, he told me that he has been drinking turmeric milk these days as well. He uses raw turmeric root and boils it with milk. He then adds little cocoa powder to the mix. Well, that’s my dad!
While you can boil the milk with turmeric powder, freshly grated turmeric is the best. Some percentage of curcumin, which is the compound in turmeric that gives it its color and is responsible for its health benefits, is lost during the heating process of making turmeric powder. You can easily find turmeric root at Whole Foods. I get mine there.
Traditionally, the milk is made only with turmeric, but adding ginger and cardamom pods enhances the taste. The black pepper helps the body to absorb the turmeric better. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon if you like, or sweeten it with honey- if you do just let the milk cool before adding the honey. You can skip the milk altogether, and boil the turmeric root with water or in almond milk. My mamiji (mom’s sister in law) tempers the turmeric powder in ghee and then boils it with milk. Any way you choose to make this milk, you will still reap the benefits of it.
So go ahead try this wonder drink and learn to embrace the goodness that this superfood carries.
- 2 cups milk (feel free to use almond milk instead)
- 1 inch turmeric root
- ½ inch piece ginger
- 2-3 black peppercorns
- 2-3 cardamom pods
- In a sauce pan simmer the milk with black pepper, grated ginger, grated turmeric and cardamom pods. Strain mixture and drink warm before going to bed.
- You can sweet the milk by adding honey, but add the honey when the milk has cooled a bit.