Nut milk has gained popularity in the vegan movement globally. However, traditionally nut milk is very popular amongst the wrestling communities in India and is very popular as a cold beverage in Summer, starting from the day of Holi, the festival of colours, the start of spring.
Traditionally Thandai is made of soaked almonds, ground into paste with peppercorns and cardamom and then mixed with milk and sugar and rose water. For Holi, this same mixture is fortified with Bhang – Fresh green Marijuana. Its a celebration after all.
The more almonds in it, the better the flavour. There is a however a cheaper version of the same Thandai, one which uses melon seeds as they add enough nuttiness and are not as expensive as almonds. Some parts of the country also add fennel seeds and poppy seeds to the Thandai.
This holi I made mine with almonds, green pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, fennel, cardamom, driend rose petals, peppercorns and a dash of honey. No milk because I used too many nuts and that makes this Thandai a Vegan treat
There might be leftover thandai. Use that to soak oats overnight and serve with fresh strawberries.
1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup poppy seeds (white)
1 tbsp black pepper corn
2 tbsp fennel seeds
10 pods green cardamom
1 handful dried rose petals. You can skip this and just use good rose water)
50 ml rose water
6-8 tbsp raw cane sugar
6 cups milk/ water
1. Soak all the above in water overnight
2. I dd not bother taking the cardamom seeds out of the pods
3. I did however take the skin off of the almonds while merrily chatting over morning coffee
4. Grind everything into a very fine paste. Add the water and dilute. If the mixture is too grainy, sieve it through a cheese cloth. It can be equally enjoyed with a slightly grainy texture.
5. If you have bhang on hand, stir it into the ground nut paste and then sieve it. Enjoy.
At a very recent dinner at a friends house on a cold winter day, I was served soup as appetiser and it was simple and delicious. Off late most of my soups are the broths I make for dunking noodles into to make some sort of Ramen out of them. But just the joy of a plain mushroom soup reminded me how delicious and easy it is to make soup out of literally every vegetable and how it is also very easy to pack a punch of flavour into it.
So the next whole week I ate at least one vegetable soup every meal and may be for two meals to finally understand and write about how to make soups out of single vegetables. Just one vegetable as hero. And what little things can be added to each of them to really up the flavour and deliciousness of the soups.
We are talking 2 basic soups here: Broccoli and Mushroom (button)
Broccoli Soup –
Ingredients: Makes 2 bowls
2 medium broccoli
1 tbsp ghee
1 sprig dill
750 ml water (and more if needed)
2-3 pinches pink salt
pepper to taste
1. Clean and chop the broccoli, stalks and stems and florets. if the broccoli is tender then chop them in the same size. Else chop the florets into larger pieces than the stalks. the stalks need to be pealed as the outer skin is tough and fibrous.
2. Add the ghee to the pan and add the broccoli. Stir and cook till tender.
3. Add the water and cook. Do not cover as that way you will loose the beautiful green colour.
4. Cook till the broccoli is almost mushy.
5. Use a hand blender to blend in the broccoli. Add a sprig of dil tied to a string and simmer till you achieve desired consistency. Once cooked remove the dill and add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls. When serving garnish with some fresh chopped dill. Serve with warm crusty bread with garlic and dill on top
Tips and tricks
1. Broccoli cooks very quickly, so a little patience, cook on low flame and the colour is retained
2. Use a densely flavoured oil to first stir fry the broccoli before you add the water. Try a cold pressed sesame, coconut, extra virgin olive or mustard oil. Ghee it was for me.
3. Use smaller and more delicate broccoli’s, they are sweeter
4. Use the stem It adds body and depth of flavour. Just peal them.
5. Use a green herb to garnish. I used dill. They go well together.
Ingredients: Makes 2 bowls
400 gms button mushrooms
2-3 bay leaves
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 inch cube. butter
1 pinch. nutmeg
1/2 cup milk/ almond milk/ coconut milk
1-2 cloves garlic
500 ml mushroom stock/ vegetable stock/ water
salt and pepper to taste
1. Chop the mushrooms into 1 inch pieces. clean them thoroughly after chopping just to ensure absolutely no grit is left on them.
2. Add the oil in a pan. Choose a big pan because mushrooms don’t cook too well if crowded in a pan. They tend to sweat too much too soon.
3. Once the oil is heated, add the butter and diced/chopped/ minced garlic and bay leaves. Stir on low flame and do not let the garlic brown. After a minute or so add the chopped mushrooms and stir.
4. Slowly the mushrooms will sweat a bit and cook through. Once cooked let it cool for some time.
5. Remove the bay leaves and add the nutmeg. Blend it in a liquidiser jar with water till smooth.
6. To get the most creamy texture, run the blended mushroom puree through a fine sieve.
7. Bring the mixture back to a boil after adding the milk and water. Season to taste. serve with a wedge of lime.
Tips and tricks
1. Cook the mushrooms till they are perfectly tender.
2. Use a liquidiser for this soup. A hand held blender will not be the best
3. Garlic, bay leaf and nutmeg/ cinnamon and you are sorted. No need to scamper about for some thyme for this.
4. Just a dash of milk, no cream at all.