Recipes: Badam Doodh or Almond Milk

A very refreshing drink made out of milk and almonds, Badam or Almond Milk. Flavoured with cardamoms, saffron and rose water, this exotic, but simple and easy-to-make drink is the perfect drink when you have a sweet craving. Almond milk is rich in vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant which can help lower the risk of serious health conditions like stroke, heart disease, and even cancer. You can also make this for neividhyam or as an offering to God, which is what I made it for. Tasting great hot and cold, my family prefers this cold as that is when the flavours have had time to meld together, giving you a yummy almondy drink.

Badam Doodh or Almond Milk

Ingredients:

  • litre full cream milk
  • 30-40 almonds
  • 4- 6 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 generous pinches saffron
  • ½ tsp rose water

Method:

  • Soak the almonds in hot water for 20-30 minutes, then drain and remove the skin
  • Blend the almonds with some of the milk until the almonds become a fine paste. Keep aside.
  • Heat the milk in a deep-bottomed pan on medium-high and let the milk come to a boil.
  • Once the milk starts to warm up, take a couple of teaspoons of the milk and add it to the small cup in which the saffron strands are lightly crushed. Mix this a bit and keep aside for later.
  • Once the milk in the pan has come to a boil, add the sugar and stir well until the sugar completely dissolves.
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, add in the blended almond paste and stir and mix well.
  • Reduce the flame to a low and stir constantly for about 10 minutes so that the milk and almond paste do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Once the raw smell of the almonds disappears, add in the crushed saffron and the cardamom powder and mix well.
  • Once the saffron and cardamom have mixed well, switch off the gas and add in the rose water. Mix well one last time and keep aside until it is completely cool.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until it is cold. Enjoy your almond or badam milk

In My Hands Today…

A History of the World in 6 Glasses – Tom Standage

Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical period.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient Greece wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe they became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization.

For Tom Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again.

Recipes: Ginger, Lemon & Honey Drink

Over the weekend, both GG and I came down with rather bad colds. I was really suffering and the hacking cough made it really difficult to sleep.

Then I remembered a drink I used to make many years back and decided to try to replicate it. It turned out to be this nice soothing gingery and lemony drink which I have been spamming over the past few days. I also make some and give it to GG in a small thermos to take to school. It has really given me a lot of relief and really soothed my throat which was raw from all that coughing.

Ginger, Lemon & Honey Drink

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 glasses water

Method:

  • Grate the ginger and add it to the water in a largish utensil. Heat the water.
  • Let the grated ginger and water come to a boil and once it reaches the boiling stage, lower the heat to a medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the flame and strain into another large bowl.
  • In this bowl, add the lemon juice and honey and stir well.
  • Adjust the honey and lemon juice according to your taste.
  • Store this drink in a thermos and sip throughout the day.

If you find it too strong for your taste, then dilute it with some warm water and drink.

Recipes: Traditional Summer Coolers – Neer Mor aka Spiced Buttermilk

Thinned and whisked yoghurt or buttermilk is a staple across India and is known by different names across the sub continent. Chaas or chaach across the northern parts of India, ghol in Bengal, Mor in Tamil Nadu, majjige in Karnataka, and taak in Maharashtra, this spiced drink is a much loved drink in India, especially during the summer months.

Buttermilk is made by churning yogurt and water, preferably cold, together in a pot, using a hand-held whisk. This can be consumed plain or seasoned with a variety of spices. Unlike lassi, buttermilk is never sweet and more diluted.

The best buttermilk is made from homemade yoghurt that is a few days old which becomes slightly sour. This sourness imparts the tartness to the buttermilk. Salt and spices are added to enhance the taste.

Neer Mor aka Spiced Buttermilk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 2 sprigs coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • In a blender, blend together the the yoghurt with the green chillies, 3-4 curry leaves, 1 sprig of coriander leaves, ginger, asafoetida and cumin seeds into a smooth paste.
  • Pour into a large jug and add the remaining cold water to thin it to the desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Chop the remaining sprig of coriander and garnish.
  • In a smaller skillet, heat the oil and when warm, add the mustard seeds and balance curry leaves. When the curry leaves becomes crisp, temper the buttermilk with this.
  • Serve cold as a refreshing summer drink.

Note: I didn’t temper the buttermilk this time, but this is the traditional method to make Neer Mor.

Recipes: Traditional South Indian Summer Coolers – Panakam

It’s been really hot these days here in Singapore and the week before last, when the festival of Ram Navami came around, I was really happy to make this traditional cooler as an offering to the Lord. This along with another summer drink called Neer Mor is traditionally offered as neividhyam or offering.

As I’ve previously mentioned, Ram Navami almost always came during the fag end of our annual exams back in India and was never really celebrated with pomp in our home, but my mum always used to make these coolers, which as a child, I rarely appreciated. As an adult, I love this drink and look for opportunities to make it.

The ingredients in this no cook drink probably are there for a reason. In the summer months, it is excessively hot in South India and each of these ingredients are meant to reintroduce sugar and hydrate you. Panakam brings down body heat and helps in preventing the human body from chicken pox in the summer. Jaggery purifies the blood, and is rich in iron, magnesium and anti-oxidants. Cardamom and ginger aid digestion, while lemon is rich in Vitamin-C and B-complex.

Panakam

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped jaggery
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder (saunth)
  • 1/2 tsp julienned ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp rock or pink Himalayan salt

Method:

  • Finely chop the jaggery and keep it in a large pan. Pour around 1 cup of medium warm water into the jaggery and let the jaggery melt.
  • If you feel that the jaggery has impurities, then strain the melted jaggery into a jug.
  • To the strained jaggery, add the remaining ingredients and then pour in the cold water.
  • You can play around with the ingredients, adding more or less, depending on your taste.
  • Serve cold. This really hits the spot on a warm summer day.

Notes:

  • Do not substitute jaggery for sugar. At a pinch, perhaps palm sugar may work, but the taste would not be the same as the panakam made with jaggery.
  • Use the darkest coloured jaggery you can find, because the colour of the drink is completely dependent on the colour of the jaggery used.