Haldi ka Doodh is milk mixed with a number of cold-fighting spices and it is a great Indian housewives remedy that’s stood the tests of time and science. The star of this drink is turmeric, that golden spice that gives a lot of Indian food its fabulous color.
Its color, though, is not the real reason turmeric (haldi) is prized in an Indian kitchen. Instead, our grandmothers and their grandmothers have long known what scientists around the world have only recently started to verify– that curcumin, a component of turmeric, is a super antioxidant and anti-inflammatory with properties that help fight infection. What’s more, it also helps fight cancer, alleviate arthritis pain and soothe stomach disorders.
In India, in the absence of an antiseptic cream on hand, anyone knows to grab a pinch of turmeric and place it on a bleeding wound to nip in the bud any possibility of infection. It can be a bit messy– because turmeric does stain– but you can’t beat it for effectivness.
Turmeric is an essential component in almost any Indian spicy dish, and especially curries. I add it to almost anything Indian I cook, because — as I’ve said in these posts before– I strongly believe in food as medicine. But there are some things anyone new to cooking with turmeric would do well to keep in mind. For one, use it in small quantities: no recipe — unless made in bulk quantities– needs more than 1/2 tsp of it.
Turmeric is bitter in taste, and added at the wrong time it can ruin a dish with a raw, unpleasant flavor. So be sure to toast your turmeric– as you should any raw spice– in some oil before you add it to your dish. By this I don’t mean you should toast it separately. Just stir it in after you’ve sauteed the onions and garlic and ginger for a curry, so the turmeric mixes in with the oil. But don’t add it toward the end of cooking. Get it?
Today’s recipe, though, is an exception, because we aren’t adding any oils here. For haldi ka doodh, you’d typically add the turmeric and spices like black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to some milk, simmer until it comes to a boil, allow it to stand, and then drink piping hot. Trust me, it’s delicious.
In my vegan kitchen, I substitute the milk with some vanilla soymilk and it tastes much better than the stinky-milk version.
Haldi ka Soy-doodh
2 cups vanilla soymilk (I love the Kirkland brand from Costco because it practically has no aftertaste, the way some soymilk does)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3 green cardamom pods
1 1-inch stick of cinnamon
10 black peppercorns
Sugar to taste (or use any sweetener you prefer)
Crush the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, preferably, until they are very coarsely powdered.
Put the soymilk in a small saucepan, add the turmeric and powdered spices, stir, and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Watch the pot closely because it will overflow, just as milk would, and then you’d have a messy cleanup job on top of a cold. How awful!
Once the soymilk begins to boil, quickly turn off the heat and cover. Let it stand for a minute or two at the most.
Strain into a cup, add sugar, and drink hot.