As the winters arrive, one sees a deluge of hot chocolate mix and cocoa mix recipes. I would be dishonest if I say I wasn’t tempted to join the craze and share my version of hot chocolate mix. But then I turned to sharing a traditional gem – an Indian spice mix that is aromatic and loaded with health benefits (I can’t believe I missed sharing this earlier). It is easy to make and really handy when you are in a mood for a glass of hot milk to wind up for the day. Along with imparting flavour to the milk, the various spices in the mix provide many benefits to help keep the winter ailments at bay; you could call it preventive and therapeutic. Making this mix is almost effortless and makes for a wonderful exotic edible homemade gift.
Milk and I share a love-hate relationship. It was made an obligatory part of my diet, namely the breakfast, when I was a kid. “Love it or hate, you have to drink it” was the deal that I was given. I still have not developed a taste for milk yet I can’t imagine a day without it. It is as if I miss something important in my diet and I don’t feel satiated until I have had it for my breakfast. However, that said, I love milk products such as Yogurt, Kheer (Indian rice pudding), Lassi, Buttermilk and of course ice creams!! The picky eater that I was once, I never said no to yogurt. I would have it for all three meals. Same was the case with buttermilk. I preferred the last serving of buttermilk coz that was full of rich creaminess. But, I still need something in my glass of milk to make it taste good.
The only time I used to love having milk was when we used to visit the Ashram. Service to all was one of the five key and essential tenets of our Gurudev and therefore during the three-day congregation, that is still held once every year, langar (free community kitchen that serves rich and poor followers/visitors alike) is an integral part of the sewa (service to others). These days however, in an effort to prevent people from wasting food, a token amount of rupee 1 is charged for tea and rupee 5 for a glass full of pure creamy milk flavoured with spices. The milk, procured from the village dairies around ashram, is rich and pure and tastes nothing like any other I have ever tasted. It is simmered along with spices and served piping hot in mornings and evenings. Seeing me polish a whole glass of that flavoured milk, my mother started making it at home as well especially during winters. The reason why I used to love that milk was obviously the spices that masked the natural taste of milk and made it super delicious.
½ C Almonds
1/3 C Pistachios
¼ C Cashews
3 – 4 tbsp Sugar (adjust sweetness)
¾ – 1 tsp powdered Cardamom seeds
¼ tsp Saffron strands (crushed)
1 tsp Dry Ginger Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper Corns (I like that little pepper hit in the milk but feel free to reduce it to ½ tsp)
¾ tsp Turmeric Powder
Lightly toast the nuts on medium low heat in a pan, shuffling them around so that they do not brown or burn. Switch off the heat and place the nuts on a plate and allow them to cool. In a spice grinder or a mixer-grinder, pulse the contents for 5 seconds and then give a break. Then pulse again for a few seconds and then again stop. (This will prevent the nuts from releasing too much oil) Repeat this process till the contents are almost powdered. Transfer the powdered mix in a clean dry bottle or jar and store refrigerated.
Serving Suggestion: 1 – 2 tsp for a glass of hot milk. (adjust to taste)
Note: Those allergic to nuts can swap nuts with seeds – sunflower seeds, sesame, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, etc (using ration of your preference). Although I have never tried making this mix using seeds, it might lack the richness provided by the nuts.
Note: Black pepper in milk may sound outlandish but I vehemently recommend using it. Ditto for turmeric.
Note: I usually simmer the spice mix with the milk (stirring it so it does not stick to the bottom) to steep the flavors. You can add the mix to the hot milk and allow it to sit for a minute or two to let the flavors steep.
Note: Feel free to adjust the ratio of ingredients in the mix to your preference.
Note: This works well with any non-dairy milk such as almond milk, coconut milk or soy milk.
Note: You need to ensure that you keep this mix at a cool dry place. I would recommend refrigeratation it and it will keep well for approximately a month or so. I prefer making small batches that are consumed well within a month.
Note: Always use a dry spoon each time you scoop out the mix else the contents will spoil due to moisture.
Check out these posts for some more Home-made Edible Gift Ideas…
Thanks for visiting and see you soon again