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“Golden milk” has long been known in India as “haldi ka doodh,” which means “turmeric milk.”
But it’s not necessarily milk at all—at least not in the dairy sense.
Instead, it’s a healthy combination of golden-coloured turmeric spice with coconut milk, almond milk, herbal tea, etc., depending on the recipe you prefer. Non-vegans may wish to make it with cow’s or goat’s milk.
It can be sweetened with honey or enhanced with ginger, cinnamon, or black pepper, and it may be served hot, warm, cool, or iced.
The gold in golden milk is either dry turmeric powder (derived from the plant’s root) or the turmeric root itself.
This drink is easy to prepare and tasty, because the liquid, whether milk or tea, takes away much of turmeric’s piquant spiciness.
Turmeric (known scientifically as “curcuma longa”) is a perennial plant and member of the ginger family that’s native to India and Southeast Asia. It grows wild in forest and is cultivated and gathered commercially for its knobby, orangish-yellow roots.
Turmeric has long been a key ingredient in many Asian dishes, mostly in savouries, such as curries, but also in sweets. In India it’s included in foods served at Hindu weddings. Also in India, turmeric leaves are used in a pudding called “patoleo,” served on the Hindu holiday in honour of the god Ganesh because a legend says his mother craved this dessert when pregnant.
Outside of Asia, turmeric has traditionally been used to impart a rich yellow colour to foods, and it’s a less-expensive substitute for pricey saffron.
Turmeric has a 4,000-year history among healthcare providers on the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere. In India, traditional Ayurveda medicine has long used turmeric in medicines, often in drinkable forms. For example, turmeric drinks are prescribed as remedies for upper respiratory ailments including coughs, congestion, and colds. Turmeric juice drops are used by Ayurveda practitioners for the eye conditions glaucoma, corneal ulcers, and conjunctivitis.
In Chinese medicine, the turmeric root is used to promote the movement of qi, the vital force or energy flow considered essential for good health; traditional Chinese practitioners believe turmeric invigorates the blood and alleviates pain. And according to Chinese acupuncturists, turmeric helps conditions related to the liver, spleen, and stomach.
Golden milk has long been associated with Ayurveda and other traditional medical practices because of its many benefits.
This nourishing drink has for centuries been valued in Asia for its medicinal properties. But in the Western world, turmeric milk is largely unknown. This is changing, however, because golden milk provides you with a beneficial dose of the health-giving spice.
Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory that exhibits numerous therapeutic properties, whether consumed orally or applied topically. The healthy component of turmeric is called curcumin, and this is what gives turmeric its incredible healing ability.
As a naturopathic researcher writing for the website Natural Penguin puts it, “Turmeric’s health benefits are so amazing that there are currently 6,235 peer-reviewed studies published on this magical herb to date.”
A quick online review of these studies reveals that the spice is nontoxic and safe even in high doses. In fact, studies of cancer patients given high doses of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) showed no toxicity, although some subjects reported mild nausea or diarrhoea that may or may not have been related to the dosage.
Abundant scientific research indicates that turmeric can:
Since the millennium, news of these and other benefits has spread via word of mouth, Internet blogs, and articles in well-regarded, wide-circulation periodicals such as the Huffington Post. As a result, the use of turmeric has skyrocketed.
Sales have increased dramatically in the United Kingdom and other western countries. In 2013, turmeric was named the top-selling herbal supplement in the United States, leading many natural beverage vendors to begin including it in drinks such as golden milk. And according to The Guardian, “The market research firm Mintel named turmeric as one of its foods to watch in 2016.”
The proven benefits of turmeric make it worth including in your diet in the form of delicious golden milk.
There are many recipes for golden milk. Here are several: choose the ones that best meet your taste and your needs.
This is the fastest and most basic recipe for golden milk. It’s a great way to make golden milk when you’re in a hurry or away from your kitchen, such as during lunch at the office or when travelling.
Note: You don’t need to measure exactly.
Melt about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil or butter in a microwave. (Using the oil or butter makes it easier to mix the turmeric into the milk when you’re not using a saucepan on a hob). Stir in the powdered turmeric. Heat the milk in a cup in the microwave. Blend in the oil/butter and turmeric mixture, and enjoy!
This is another great on-the-go recipe for at the office or when travelling.
Halve the recipe for “Quick Golden Milk on the Go” above. Make a cup of your favourite tea. Add the golden milk to taste. Refrigerate any that’s left over, and use in your next cup of tea.
Like the quick recipes above, this one again uses 1/2 teaspoon of powdered turmeric in 1 cup of milk. However, it dilutes the milk with water and, most importantly, adds 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Many golden milk experts assert that black pepper is essential to bring out the best healing qualities of turmeric.
Combine the milk and water over low heat, and stir in the turmeric. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. (This reduce the milk to about one cup.) Remove from heat and sprinkle in the crushed black pepper. Drink it while it’s hot or warm.
This recipe is similar to the one above, but it uses turmeric root and not powdered turmeric, and black peppercorns instead of commercially prepared pepper.
Combine the milk and water over low heat, and stir in the grated turmeric. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle in the crushed black pepper, and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. Strain the golden milk into a cup and drink it warm.
You may wish to add one or more of the following to any of the above recipes:
Any of the above drinks can be served over ice, although most people drink their golden milk hot or warm.
In April 2016, the gourmet cooking magazine Bon Appetit published a recipe for what it calls “iced turmeric latte.” That recipe uses cashew milk, substantially increases the amount of turmeric, adds raw sugar, and spices things up with lemon, ginger, and cardamom. Here’s a version of it:
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except the lemon wedge and stir or whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let it sit five for 5 minutes, then strain, pressing on the solids to extract all juices.
Pour over ice and add a lemon wedge, as for iced tea.
Sounds great for sultry summer days!
Be careful when using turmeric as, whether powdered or in root form, it can stain cookware, cups, countertops, etc. The golden colouring may fade eventually, but scrubbing with a thick paste of baking soda and water may help remove the stain.