In the 1990s, I heard yoga teacher Nischala Joy Devi say: “Yoga is very popular these days, but what is popular isn’t yoga.” This really struck me back then, and now it seems the same can be said of Ayurveda.
Over the past couple of years, Ayurveda’s classic haldi doodh, or Golden Milk (a.k.a. the more trendy “turmeric latte”) has been appearing on menus in cafés eager to cash in on health-conscious trends.
For something to be truly healthy, it should be made with the best fresh ingredients and taken at the right time, according to both constitution and need, or it can become as unhealthy as any junk food!
Turmeric is a blood purifier and has anti-cancer properties, but it is absorbed (bio-available) in therapeutic doses only if taken with a small amount of black pepper, healthy fat (like ghee or coconut oil), and when heated.
Because of this, Golden Milk is anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, anti-oxidant, warming, and nutritious. Enjoy it before bedtime for a good night’s rest and to help support the liver in its overnight detoxifying role.
Adjust the ingredients to alleviate a dry cough, adding more ghee or honey as needed.
Here is a quick and easy recipe to make your own Golden Milk at home (serves one):
You will need a small saucepan/pot (plus a second one if you want to froth it as explained below).
Pour 1 cup of fresh (ideally raw or micro-filtered) milk into the pan, and heat over medium flame. Avoid boiling – just let it start to bubble.
If you prefer a vegan drink, you can use fresh almond, hazelnut, coconut or hemp milk. Avoid UHT drinks whenever possible, as well as soy drinks, which are not a health food. Similarly, grain-based drinks (rice, oats, barley, etc.) provide almost no health benefit, while being very high in sugars.
Stir in 1/4-1/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter). Vata types can use up to 1 tsp, Kapha types or those looking to lose weight should add the least amount.
Ghee has specific healing properties – it’s warming, anti-oxidant, and supports good digestion and metabolism (learn more here) which is why it is used so often in Ayurvedic treatments and cooking.
You can also use coconut oil if you are making a vegan version of the drink.
If you want to serve it the traditional way, with lots of frothy bubbles, take a separate small pan and quickly pour from one back into the other several times. This has the added advantage of mixing everything well and cooling it down quickly.
For those who want to calm nervous anxiety, gain some weight or are convalescing and need a boost of nourishment, mix in a finely chopped date and/or 1/2 tsp Ashwagandha powder once it’s off the heat.
To sweeten, you can use raw cane sugar (jaggery/rapadura/muscovado) or honey can be added to taste once the Golden Milk has cooled to drinking temperature.