Indian cooking is both delicious and medicinal. Much of it is based on the tradition of Ayurveda, an ancient Vedic system which uses the innate wisdom of nature to restore and maintain the health and balance of body, mind and spirit. The use of milk when properly prepared with certain spices, fruits and nuts, confers greater digestibility as well as specific health benefits.
The liberal use of spices and nuts is no secret when it comes to great Indian cooking, and in particular, their use in the preparation of various milk-based beverages. Because milk contains both water and butterfat, it’s an ideal medium for dissolving and extracting the active water-soluble and fat-soluble compounds of spices. When milk is boiled with spices, the natural health benefits of the milk are fortified even further, and adding spices and nuts makes the milk taste absolutely delicious!
There are three basic methods to follow in the preparation of milk with spices:
- Simply add ground spices to milk, stir and drink as is.
- Add up to ½ teaspoon of ground spices to a cup of milk; stir while gently warming the milk for just a minute or two before serving.
- Boil the milk along with the spices; strain, if desired and if no nuts are used.
#1 Dates, Almonds, Cardamom and Fennel
Mash the dates. Crush the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. Discard green husks; place seeds in the bowl of a food processor, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle along with almonds and fennel. Grind or crush to a powder. Thoroughly blend in the mashed dates. Stir a spoonful into warm milk and enjoy.
- Cardamom with dates, almonds and fennel gives the milk a delicious aroma and flavor
- Good tonic for the heart
- Supports stomach and intestinal health
- Supports a healthy respiratory system
- Helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels in healthy people
- Naturally rich in Vitamin E
#2 Cardamom, Saffron, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cinnamon and Ghee
Crush the cardamom pods, discard green husks and grind the seeds. Transfer to a small bowl. Add saffron, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. Stir ghee into warm milk. Add the ground spices; mix well and enjoy.
- Promotes proper digestion and optimal nourishment by supporting a healthy stomach and improving digestion
- Promotes a deep sense of satisfaction and contentment
- Perfect nourishing drink to enjoy after a game of tennis, a hard workout, or any favorite sport
- Wonderful energizing drink for growing children and elderly people
#3 Raisins, Dates, Almonds and Pistachios
1 tablespoon chopped raisins
1 tablespoon chopped, pitted dates
1 cup of warm organic milk
1 tablespoon ground almond meal
1 tablespoon ground pistachio nuts
Mash raisins and dates together with a fork or mortar and pestle. Add to warm milk and mix thoroughly. Add ground nuts; stir and enjoy.
- Acts as a mild, safe laxative
- Improves gastric and intestinal health
- Supports healthy bones
- Supports healthy eyes
- Delicious, energizing, and nourishing milk beverage
- Add a pinch of saffron. It is traditional Indian custom to offer this beverage on the first night of marriage as the addition of saffron can improve sexual performance.
#4 Cardamom, Fennel and Saffron
Mix cardamom, fennel and saffron into warm milk. Stir well and enjoy.
- Improves digestive power
- Supports gastric health
- Relieves belching, queasiness, acid and burning sensations in stomach
- Promotes and supports a calm nervous system
#5 Cinnamon, Ginger, Turmeric, Nutmeg and Black Pepper
Mix spices with warm milk, stirring for a couple of minutes before drinking.
- Improves digestion
- Supports a healthy appetite
- Awakens and enlivens the taste buds so food tastes better
- Helps keep both respiratory and skin allergies at bay
- Promotes joint health, relieving aching and stiffness
#6 Turmeric and Black Pepper
Stir spices into warm milk; drink and enjoy.
- Good digestive tonic
- Helps relieve allergic responses of both the skin and the respiratory system
#7 Raw Honey, Jaggery, Ghee and Yogurt
Stir all ingredients together and enjoy.
This delicious combination is called Panchamaruta. It is a rich, highly nutritious, excellent cooling and energizing beverage that has long been used in the customary practice of worship in India.
Traditional Single-Spice and Milk Combinations
- Saffron: Warm a cup of milk with a pinch of saffron. It’s a natural aphrodisiac, and it nourishes, moisturizes and softens the skin.
- Garlic: Add one teaspoon of mashed garlic or garlic paste to one cup of water and one cup of milk. Boil until reduced by half. Strain and drink. In Ayurvedic medicine, this combination is used to relieve bloating and stomach discomfort.
- Turmeric: Traditionally, a pinch of turmeric is added to a half-cup of warm milk to instantly help relieve itching and allergies.
- Long Pepper (Piper Longum): Add one quarter teaspoon of long pepper powder to one cup of water and one cup of milk. Boil to reduce by half. Strain and drink. This spicy beverage is traditionally used in Ayurveda to relieve indigestion and nausea, and to improve respiratory health.
- Ghee: 2 to 3 teaspoons of ghee added to one cup of warm milk is a wonderful, healing tonic. Ayurvedic medicine often recommends its use during pregnancy and after delivery. It has a mild laxative effect, often needed at that time.
* The benefits noted in these traditional milk-based beverages are based on the practice of the ancient Vedic system of healing known as Ayurveda, meaning The Science of Life. Ayurveda originated thousands of years ago in India and is practiced today around the world by many medical doctors and experts in the field of natural health and healing. For best results, we recommend a consultation with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner to determine specific guidelines for best spices to use based on individual constitution.