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Haldi Ka Doodh (Golden Milk)

2 Sep

The other day, my workoholic beau private messaged me on Facebook with: “I’d like to try golden milk. I haven’t looked up the recipe online, but it’s supposed to be good for you and give you energy”. At first, I figured his carnivorous self couldn’t possibly have come up with this himself, which instantly made me think that surely he heard it from that cute little barista at his nearby Starbucks. However, since I’m not entirely “Sybil”-like, I quickly suppressed my recessive jealous gene by channeling my non-PMS’ing brain cells, and explained his request as someone who wants to get healthier… and possibly be around me for a long time to come. I’m blessed.

So.. challenge accepted, mister. Turns out, golden milk is a staple in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s official name, Haldi ka Doodh, calls for milk to be warmed and steeped with fresh turmeric, fresh ginger and a pinch of black pepper, the latter reportedly boasting your body’s ability to digest turmeric by 2000%. TWO THOUSAND! Whoa. There are a ton of variations available online. As a matter of fact, while I slept comfortably under my rock, it seems ‘golden milk’ rose to frenzied fame on the wellness web. I mean, Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it. Do I need to say more? DO I?!

The star players in the various renditions you can find online are always a milky foundation and yellow turmeric. You are free to milk your own cow or goat, but many seem to use coconut milk or almond milk. Since dairy tends to not always agree with the mister, I used coconut milk. Some recipes call for tablespoons versus teaspoons, some tell you to bring the mixture to a boil whereas others warn you not to let the mixture boil to avoid losing the natural benefits of its ingredients. Some creatively hint towards a blend of mulling spices, a good number of them have discrepancies in cup measurements and there is a wild debate between fresh turmeric & fresh ginger versus their powdered cousins. Add in the sheer schizophrenia in its namesake (turmeric tea, turmeric latte, golden milk, golden latte, Haldi ka Doodh…) and you’ve got a recipe that is more confused than a gender-fluid teenager. 

Firstly, let’s talk turmeric… This ‘spice-du-jour’ is what gives your milky concoction its golden hue. Be forewarned, in its fresh root or ‘paste’-variety, it’s an instant dye for your milk, cutting board or whatever new item of clothing you happen to be wearing. Turmeric’s health benefits come from its plant compound named ‘curcumin’ (“kurkuma” in Dutch, because my Flemish-speaking mom will surely ask me what the heck turmeric is. You’re welcome, mom!). Reportedly, curcumin boasts a wide range of digestive, respiratory and… boom chika chika wow wow… reproductive-health improvements. It’s reportedly also good to prevent cancer and seems to aide liver function. Disclaimer: none of these health benefits are actually backed by scientific research, but then again, free natural stuff impedes on a pharmaceutical exec’s vacation on Bora Bora. I’d say, check it out for yourself and see if you feel better. At the very least, you will have discovered a delicious new drink.

Personally, turmeric & I have long been embroiled in a hot affair, as almost all Indian spice blends include turmeric and typically give curry its yellow color as well. Since Scott & I have a thing with warm Indian flavorings, I figured golden milk could very well be good for you and tasty at the same time. I ventured out to Whole Foods, purveyor of all things extraordinary expensive natural & organic, but wasn’t able to find fresh turmeric. I settled on dried, ground spices instead. I used coconut milk from the dairy aisle and added in a small can of coconut cream, because I like things creamy.

Pouring everything into a big cast iron pot and letting the mixture warm through, the aroma grabbed me by the nose almost right away. It’s earthy and so warmly spiced, it’s truly a cozy cup of Fall deliciousness. I haven’t tried drinking it cold, but it was very tasty whilst hot and I can assure you I’ll be making overnight oats with this concoction… If you don’t like Indian food, this is likely not going to be your cup of tea. However, if you’re like us and you like warm spices, then this will surely become one of your favorites too.


HALDI KA DOODH (GOLDEN MILK)
(A pleasant Americanized good-for-you beverage)

– 8 cups of coconut milk (or almond milk, soy milk, cow’s milk or any other kind of milk)
– 6 oz of coconut cream (optional) (*)
– 3 Tbsp ground turmeric
– 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
– 2 Tbsp ground ginger
– 0.5 tsp ground cardamom
– 3 Tbsp of honey (or a sweetener of your choice)
– 4 cloves
– a splash of hot water
– a pinch of saffron (optional, garnish)
– a pinch of black pepper (**)
(*) fat aides in the absorption of curcumin, if not using cream, make a spice paste with a bit of coconut oil instead of water. You can also use regular dairy whipping cream.
(**) black pepper boasts your body’s ability to absorb the beneficial curcumin (Turmeric) by an impressive 2000%.

In a small bowl, mix all ground spices (except saffron & pepper) and make a paste with a splash of hot water. Set aside.

In a heavy pot (I used a cast iron Dutch oven), combine milk with cream, spice paste, and cloves. Bring to a gentle simmer, not a rolling boil, until frothy. Turn heat off and let steep for an additional 15-20 min and add a pinch of black pepper. Strain mixture to remove cloves.

Finnish with honey (for sweetness) and a pinch of saffron. Serve hot or cold.

Recipe above makes approx. 8-9 cups

Hot Mulled Apple Wine

19 Dec

Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ more than the aroma of hot, mulled wine simmering away. Wafting through the house, whilst the colorful lights of an ornately decorated tree dance across the ceiling and the ‘Yule Log’ DVD is playing in the background the fire in your hearth is crackling in perfect harmony. Mulled wine is a scent that permeates Belgium in the Winter too. From the many cozy Kristkindl markets near the German border to various booths (‘kraampjes’) across cobblestoned city squares, there is no escape from it.. and let’s face it, with single digit frost blowing in your face, hot spiced wine is just about the ticket to Winter heaven. Nothing warms your congealed fingers better during the midnight mass on Christmas eve, than wrapping them around a Styrofoam cup of hot liquid deliciousness, whilst listening to the choir belt out Handel’s Messiah on a make-shift stage outside the church.

I remember the first time I tried mulled wine as a child. The assault on my young taste buds was so violent, that I spat it out on the church floor, which yielded protest from my mom for desecration and for not having “swallowed out of respect & politeness”. Nowadays, I swallow. Get your mind out of the gutter, please. Don’t be alarmed by the notion that European children grow up with things like mulled wine. While most Americans will condemn European parents for feeding their children… shudder… ALCOHOL, it is actually a fairly normal thing in Belgium to expose your 12+ year old to things like beer & wine. Within limitation, of course. And with parental supervision at all times. Especially ‘mulled’ wine is fairly harmless, as some of the alcohol in the wine evaporates during the cooking process, and mostly the robust flavors of the spices and full-bodied wine remain. It’s definitely a grown-up taste though, if you ask me.

I confess that I hated mulled wine as child. So much so, that I didn’t touch wine ever again until I was well into my college years, even though the legal drinking age for beer & wine is 16 in Belgium (which is rarely enforced in the presence of adults). In attempt to be ‘cool’ and ‘holiday hip’, my first attempt at making mulled wine resulted in a traumatic childhood flashback. It went mostly down the drain, in a semi-violent fashion. Mind you, I didn’t have access to Pinterest and thus no recipe, as this occurred in the Jurassic before the Internet was invented. ** If your tween child is reading this with you, please pick him/her up from the floor and start CPR now.** At the time, I thought that mulled wine was just red wine that was simmered with spices. Whoops.

There’s plenty of recipes for red mulled wine available online, so I decided to post the white version of hot spiced wine… I based the recipe on a concoction I found at the ‘De Ketel & De Kurk’ tavern in Belgium. This white mulled wine has a gentle apple flavor, similar to apple cider, and gets its kick from the lemon peel and the warm spices from traditional red mulled wine. Enjoy!

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Hot Mulled Apple Wine
(Adapted from a recipe by ‘De Ketel & De Kurk’ tavern)
– 2 bottles of dry white wine, the cheapest one you like drinking is fine (makes approx. 8 large mugs)
– 4 cups of clear apple juice
– 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier
– Peel of 1 lemon + juice
– 5oz of brown sugar
– 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped or crushed
– 3 sticks of cinnamon + more for decorating the mugs
– 2 whole vanilla beans, sliced open (do not remove seeds)
– 2 whole cloves
– 2 star anise + more for decorating the mugs
– A small pinch of ground nutmeg

Rule #1: do not boil the wine! Try to keep the wine below boiling point, and let it gently heat through without ever cracking a boil. Bringing it to a rolling boil will make the wine very bitter.

Peel lemon so that only the oily zest comes off (not the white rind underneath), juice the peeled lemon.

In a large Dutch oven, combine everything except for the wine. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes in a covered pot. Add wine and bring to nary a boil. When you notice the wine is about ready to boil, turn the heat to low and allow it to heat through and steep for 2-3 hours without ever boiling. Pour the whole pot through a sieve to sift the impurities and spices out of the wine.

Serve hot and decorate each much with a stick of cinnamon and a star anise.

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