Enjoy the soothing flavors of authentic Haldi Doodh, a traditional Indian beverage rooted in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. This golden elixir, also known as Turmeric Milk, combines milk with earthy turmeric with aromatic spices to create a cozy drink with anti-inflammatory properties. Sipped for generations as a remedy for various ailments, this recipe is a timeless classic that promises both wellness and warmth in every sip.
As a child, I hated when my mother forced me to drink a cup of Haldi Doodh when I was sick. Especially when she added ghee... I still have traumatic memories of forcefully downing buttery cups of liquid dirt. Oh, the drama!!
Since then, my tastebuds have completely evolved. I can now genuinely appreciate a nourishing, cozy cup of Turmeric Milk. It feels like a warm hug from my mom when I have a cold or like showing up in her bedroom at 1am because I can't fall asleep.
There's no denying that desi parents slather turmeric on anything that's broken. I can't tell you the amount of times I've been told, "Haldi (turmeric) in any form heals the body from inside". The use of turmeric in Indian culture is deeply rooted in ancient Ayurvedic medicine and traditions that are proven by modern medicine today.
Why you'll love this Recipe
- You may be familiar with Masala Chai, which is also rooted in Ayurvedic traditions. Instead of energizing like chai does, Haldi Doodh soothes and settles using similar aromatic, warm spices and grounds you with earthy turmeric.
- This recipe stays authentic to Indian traditions when making Turmeric Milk. However, it does not ignore that it has evolved in the West and provides you with ideas on how to customize the trendy Golden Milk to your dietary preferences and needs.
- It reduces the amount of turmeric used in most recipes online. ¼ to ½ teaspoon per serving is sufficient to fully enjoy the flavor and benefits of turmeric. A teaspoon or more per serving results in a bitter beverage.
- Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in South Asia for the nutritional benefits that come from the active component, curcumin. The turmeric and spices have proven anti-inflammation and anti-oxidative properties to reduce inflammation. There are benefits to drinking turmeric milk at night to improve sleep.
What is Haldi Doodh?
Haldi Doodh translates to turmeric milk, an Indian beverage rooted in ancient Ayurvedic medicine and herbalism. It uses whole milk and turmeric as the base with a balanced blend of whole spices. It's typically given to young children when they're sick as a way of healing the body from the inside using the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric combined with black pepper.
Turmeric is often referred to as the golden spice due to it's stunning yellow hue that it lends to Indian cooking, such as in Arbi Sabzi and Khichdi. In the West, Haldi Doodh suddenly became trendy and came with a rebrand - Golden Milk. It's often referred to as a Turmeric Tea or Golden Milk Latte.
Many companies now sell a "Golden Milk Latte Blend" for exorbitant prices and market it as a superfood sleepy-time aid. Golden Milk is often made with plant-based milks, alternative sweeteners, added syrups or spices, and served with a frothy milk top.
But I promise you don't need all that! You can make it right at home for a fraction of the price, customized to how you like it with no additives, and makes you feel good.
Benefits of Turmeric Milk
Please note: We are not dietitians or doctors at Masala and Chai. For more information, please refer to the sourced material from the US National Institute of Health.
Turmeric has been used for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years in South Asia in Ayurvedic medicine as a remedy for the common cold and restlessness. Curcumin, has been vigorously studied for multiple health benefits, including inhibiting carcinogens, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Some proven health benefits are:
- Aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions
- Reduced exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness
- Improved insulin sensitivity and gut health
- Improved brain function
- Reduced elevated blood pressure
- Reduced anxiety and aid in relaxed sleep
Talk to your doctor before increasing your intake of turmeric when pregnant or breastfeeding. Consuming too much turmeric may also have negative side effects, such as stomach distress and headaches (WebMD).
Ingredients - Notes and Substitutions
- Milk - Whole milk is traditionally used, but dairy-free alternatives work just as well. I recommend coconut milk or oat milk as nut-free options, or cashew milk for a creamy option.
- Turmeric - Turmeric's brilliant golden hue and nutritional benefits makes it the star of this beverage. Ground turmeric is usually easier to work with, but the 1 teaspoon of the fresh root can also be used. I usually just grab a package at the Indian grocery. Be careful, turmeric stains surfaces and nails!
- Green cardamom - Aromatic cardamom pairs really well with turmeric. A single pod that's a little cracked open or preferably freshly ground cardamom works.
- Cinnamon - A 1-inch stick of cinnamon or ⅛ teaspoon of ground cinnamon makes turmeric tea so cozy.
- Clove - Clove as a whole spice tends to be really strong, so use it if you enjoy the flavor. Otherwise, no big deal.
- Black pepper - I don't want to hear that black pepper is too spicy for you. A few turns of a pepper mill is sufficient to active the curcumin in turmeric and increase absorption of the nutritional benefits by 2000%!
- Sweetener - I grew up without added sweetener in my turmeric milk. Gud (jaggery) or white sugar are common additions. Stevia, honey, or maple syrup are great alternatives.
- Ginger - Optional, but adds amazing flavor and additional health benefits.
- Ghee or coconut oil - Optional, but a fat increases absorption of curcumin which is fat-soluble. Great to use if you've opted for low-fat milk.
How to make Haldi Doodh
Pour the milk into a stainless steel or nonstick sauce pan. Bring the milk up to a simmer on low to medium heat.
Add the turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon stick, cloves, and any other spices you'd like or ginger into the sauce pan. Whisk the ingredients together.
Pro Tip: Enzymes in ginger can cause milk to curdle. If adding ginger, boil the spices in ½ cup of water, then add the milk.
Simmer for 10 minutes, whisking in intervals so that the milk doesn't scorch the bottom of the pan. The color will transform from an orangey hue to a brilliant yellow color.
Keep an eye on your saucepan, because the milk may start to bubble to the top. If this happens, simply remove the pan from heat until the bubbles come down. Then, return the pan to the burner and lower the heat a bit.
Note: If too much water evaporates and you prefer turmeric milk less thick, add 2 tablespoons of water to thin it out.
Strain the turmeric milk into a cup. Spoon in sugar to taste and mix until it dissolves. You're ready to cozy up!
At this point, you can also add a bit of ghee to melt right in or vanilla extract into the drink.
Tips and Tricks
To make it vegan. Substitute the whole milk with your favorite dairy-free milk, especially cashew milk, almond milk, or oat milk. If using an additional fat, use coconut oil or avocado oil. Swap honey out for maple syrup.
To make it nut free. Nut allergies can be avoided by using dairy milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.
Alternative sweeteners. Gud (jaggery) or white sugar are traditionally used. I actually grew up having it without any sugar, since whole milk is naturally a bit sweet. Stevia, honey, or maple syrup can also be used.
Using ground spices instead of whole spices. Using whole spices is traditional in Turmeric Milk and results in a better flavor profile and minimal residue at the bottom of your cup. However, use the following blend of spices for 1 cup: smallest pinch of ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground green cardamom, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric.
You can also scale this recipe, whisk it together, and bottle it as your own readymade turmeric milk blend. Use a teaspoon for 1 cup of warm frothy milk and add sweetener.
Additional spices. Nutmeg and a tiny piece of star anise are common additions to Golden Milk.
Ginger. Ginger root also has amazing anti-inflammatory properties that you can enjoy in a Ginger Turmeric Wellness Shot. A small slice of ginger adds amazing flavor to Haldi Doodh. Be careful using fresh ginger in milk, as the enzymes can curdle the milk. If using ginger, add a ½ cup of water and boil the spices and ginger in it first before adding milk.
How to Increase Absorption to enjoy the Benefits of Turmeric
One of the major issues with consuming turmeric on its own is the poor absorption and rapid elimination of curcumin, the bioactive component in turmeric (NIH).
- Research supports that combining the piperine in black pepper with the curcumin in turmeric enhances curcumin absorption by up to 2,000% (Healthline). Adding freshly cracked black pepper is highly recommended.
- Curcumin is fat-soluble, so turmeric milk is often combined with avocado oil, coconut oil, or ghee to increase absorption even further. This is especially useful if you're planning on using low-fat milk or a plant-based milk.
- However, whole milk has enough fat content to enjoy the benefits of ingesting turmeric.
More Indian Drinks to try
Haldi Doodh (Turmeric Milk)
- Pour the milk into a pan on low to medium heat. Bring it up to a boil.
- Add the turmeric, clove, green cardamom pod, cinnamon stick, and any other spices or ginger if you'd like. Whisk all the ingredients together.
- Allow the milk to simmer for 10 minutes, until the spices are infused. Be sure to stir in intervals to prevent the milk from scorching the bottom. Keep an eye on the milk because it may start bubbling to the top.
- Turn the heat off. Strain the milk into a cup. Spoon in sugar to taste and mix until dissolved. Add ghee or vanilla extract if desired.
- Enjoy warm!
- Turmeric is fat-soluble so adding a fat such as ghee or coconut oil boosts the benefits of turmeric.
- Black pepper boosts the absorption of turmeric by 2000%, so don't skip on adding some freshly cracked pepper to this drink.
- Enzymes in ginger can cause milk to curdle. If adding ginger, boil the spices in ½ cup of water, then add the milk.