This winter, we discovered Golden Milk or Turmeric Tea, and fell in love with its astringent, but smooth and bright flavor. I often make it now instead of the hot chocolates, molasses milks and herbal chai my family loves. When I can get it, I like to use fresh turmeric in my cooking. I love its faint metallic, astringent flavor and the bright yellow-orange it gives my pilafs and curries.
In wintertime, when access to raw milk becomes scarce, I tend to use coconut milk and coconut water in this recipe; however, if you have good access to fresh milk, be sure to use it as it’s delightful with both cow’s milk and coconut milk.
Turmeric and Ginger
Turmeric and ginger are rhizomes, and while they look like roots, they’re actually the subterraneous stems of tropical plants. Both turmeric and ginger have long been lauded for their medicinal as well as culinary properties, and often season the traditional foods of south Asian kitchens.
When you peel away the papery skin that envelops the turmeric rhizome, it reveals a brilliant orange color. This orange pigment colors the foods in which it is cooked, and gives Golden Milk its characteristic yellow-gold color. It is also this pigment, as well as other components found in turmeric, that contribute to its strong antioxidant capacity. While turmeric has long-been used in traditional south Asian folk medicine, only recently have researchers begun looking into its effects on various cancers, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. Curcumin, a component of turmeric, is strongly anti-inflammatory.
Ginger, like turmeric, offers strong antioxidant capacity and has similarly enjoyed a long history of use in folk medicine where it is traditionally used to easy stomach upset or to ease the discomfort caused by flus and colds. Preliminary research also links ginger to slowed tumor growth and to the inhibition of the growth of cancerous ovarian cells, though ginger’s affect on cancer is poorly understood and warrants more research.
While it’s relatively easy to find fresh ginger in any grocery store, health food store or supermarket, finding fresh turmeric is a little more challenging. I typically find fresh turmeric in health food stores only seasonally – in winter. I typically purchase powdered turmeric online (available here – where I purchase most of my organic spices).
When I prepare my Golden Milk, I begin first by combining freshly grated ginger and turmeric with grass-fed ghee to form a fine paste. Long used in Ayurvedic cooking, ghee is a type of clarified butter. Ghee prepared from the butter of grass-fed cows is extraordinarily rich in fat-soluble vitamins A and K2; it is also a good source of conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy fat with anticarcinogenic properties.
Turmeric and ginger, both rich in antioxidants, also work synergistically together with ghee, as ghee, and other healthy fats, enable those fat-soluble nutrients to be better absorbed.
You can purchase grass-fed ghee in many health food stores, as well as online (see sources).
Lastly, I use raw Manuka honey as a sweetener. Manuka honey is a single varietal honey from New Zealand with a thick texture and a strong, almost medicinal flavor. It is rich in antioxidants and has strong antimicrobial properties. Due to demand and relatively limited supply, Manuka honey is expensive, and any raw honey can be substituted for it in this recipe with little change in flavor.
I typically purchase our Manuka honey online from reputable sources, and I use it only sparingly.
- Peel both the turmeric and ginger, then grate them finely into a mortar or a molcajete (I use this one.) Spoon the ghee into the mortar or molcajete, and grind the ghee into the turmeric and ginger with your pestle until they form a fine paste.
- Pour the coconut milk and coconut water into a saucepan, and spoon in the paste made with turmeric, ginger and ghee. Turn the heat up to medium-high and warm the ingredients together until little bubbles just begin to creep up the sides of the pot. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan, allowing the turmeric and ginger to steep about 3 minutes. Strain the golden milk through a fine-mesh strainer or tea strainer into a tea pot. Stir in the Manuka honey and continue stirring until it dissolves. Serve warm.
If you cannot find fresh turmeric, substitute 2 teaspoons organic powdered turmeric (available here).