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Friday, 29 March 2013

Badam Milk with Saffron (Indian Style Almond Milkshake)

Growing up in Catholic Mangalore, the one festival that we didn't really celebrate was the intensely riotous festival of colours, Holi. In India, Holi signifies the arrival of spring and is celebrated by throwing powdered colours at people, as well as buckets full of coloured water.
But that changed when I headed to university in Delhi, and for two crazy years, I celebrated Holi with a passion that belied all my Holi-less days growing up. Our university turned into a rainbow as everyone was doused in every shade of colour known to humankind.

Holi is also about bhang... click on that word at your own peril :) Bhang is an intoxicating drink made with the leaves and buds of the female marijuana plant, and for one day is pretty much legal all over India. At university, we used to be served 'bhang thandai' (a chilled milk based bhang drink) in our residence mess halls. Obviously, you could choose if you wanted to drink it or not, but to be honest, what self respecting university student, away from home, wouldn't indulge? So we started off with bhang first thing in the morning, steadily getting more and more intoxicated as the day wore on and we all were wearing a plethora of colour. We danced out in the streets with wild abandon, and even the most uptight of people let go of their inhibitions, as everyone embraced the beginning of spring and the bounty it brings. Technically we still had classes, but seeing as most of the lecturers were down with the students, I can only assume not much teaching or learning happened. 

And once the day was done, we all scraped ourselves off the ground, and oozed our way back to our rooms, where we spent hours trying to wash all the colours out of our hair and skin, usually to the chorus of 'why are you hogging the bathroom, get out and let others shower too' 'knock, knock, are you ever getting out of there?' 'other people need to shower too'... (these are Indian student halls, about four bathrooms shared between twenty odd girls led to a fair bit of possessiveness and yelling and screaming and threatening and accompanying hilarity :))

Sadly, as I am not so much in with the East Indian population here in Edmonton, I didn't manage to find an, ahem! bhang party to attend this year... to be honest, I would imagine most people celebrated quietly indoors anyway, owing to the freezing temperatures :) So this year, my Holi has been spent vicariously enjoying all the pictures that my friends in India, and some abroad, have been posting on their Facebook timelines! And missing the bhang warmth and colours of India.

Badam Milk with Saffron (Indian Style Almond Milkshake)

I sort of felt all law abiding this year, and figured that brewing up a batch of bhang may well be frowned upon by Edmonton lawmakers :) 

So instead I made this other delicious drink, one that is made all the time in India, but especially during Holi. Badam milk, or Indian spiced almond milk is a classic Indian street drink, and is a godsend during the hot summer months, or indeed, the hot spring months. Almonds are soaked and ground to a fine paste with a little milk, sugar, cardamom and rosewater, and if you're feeling extravagant, you can add some saffron too. Everybody in India will have their own recipe for this cooling, nutritious drink and I like to keep mine simple with light, unmistakable Indian flavours. 

Almonds are prized in Indian cooking, and used in a variety of dishes as accompaniments, garnishes or as pastes to enrich classic curries. In our home, we usually got bags of almonds when one of our relatives returned from the Gulf states. They were stored in big plexi boxes, and my mum would soak a handful in a glass of water every night. The next morning, the almond skins would have loosened and she would then laboriously peel them and give my sister and I a couple handfuls each, as they were meant to boost memory and concentration, along with being nutritious too. Me, I don't really have that kind of patience, and besides, peeled almonds are so easy to come by here, that their magic has almost been eclipsed, in a way. 

That said, when I made and tasted this drink, some of that magic returned, as I was instantly transported back to the hot, dusty streets of Delhi, and the fact that it was Holi, just made it even more special... even though I was far away from home and the vibrant colours that were being flung into the air there! 

Badam Milk with Saffron (Indian Style Almond Milkshake)

Recipe:

1 cup blanched, peeled almonds
4 tablespoons or to taste, sugar
1 + 2 cups whole milk
Seeds from 2 green cardamom pods, crushed
A generous pinch of saffron, slaked in a little hot milk 
1/2 teaspoon rosewater

Method: 

Heat one cup of milk until just steaming. Soak the blanched almonds in the hot milk, for about an hour, until the almonds soften and the milk cools.

Place the cooled milk, almonds and sugar in a blender or food processor and blend to a fine paste. 

Add the remaining milk, crushed cardamom seeds and saffron, and blend until well mixed. Strain through a jelly bag, squeezing to get every bit of flavour out of the mixture. If necessary, add a little more milk and strain some more.

Stir in rosewater.

Serve chilled, with a pinch of saffron as garnish.

Badam Milk with Saffron (Indian Style Almond Milkshake)

16 comments :

  1. Oh that color!! Love it. Bhaang would have been quite something though :)

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    1. It's real Kashmiri saffron Ansh :) Paid an arm and leg for it, so its very preciously used!

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  2. Lovely post! As always, I miss India when I see stuff like this... weepy :(.. haha, where did you find that gorgeous milk bottle?

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  3. Wowww... Looks divine and delicious.. Love the color.. First time here.. happy to follow your space :)

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  4. What a riotous Holi that must have been..missing everything here in Chennai, from colors to the enthusiasm the festival demands. Beautiful clicks, and lovely color!

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  5. I absoutely love cardamon, the pictures are really beautiful and the colour of this is amazing, really bright and summery
    from Emily x

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  6. Looks like a beautiful drink!! :)

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  7. Love your posts, Michelle! This looks so lovely and very yummy!! xoxo

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  8. Love your posts Michelle! This looks so beautiful and yummy, I'm going to try it this afternoon! xoxo :-)

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  9. Michelle, is is the best darn drink I've tasted in some time! Wowza, it's fantastic!!! Thanks for sharing such a lovely recipe. xoxo :-)

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  10. Michelle, this is the best darn drink I've tasted in some time!! Thanks for a fabulous recipe!! Sadly, we drank it all as soon as I made it and there weren't any left overs for later. So Yummmmy!!! xoxoxox

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    1. Awww, thanks so much Kimberley, I love it too... the flavours are so Indian :) Love you guys!

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  11. This recipe looks delicious. Do you know the nutritional values? If you post it on www.myrecipemagic.com they will calculate it for you and you can get paid for posting recipes.

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  12. I love this drink. So beautifully presented. Now I am tempted to make some for myself!

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  13. Looks Great. I have to try this one!

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  14. Oh my.....love the story. You just gave me a whole new look at Holi-days. Looking forward to trying the recipe out but without dairy.

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