Indian Bhang Recipe
2 cups water
1 ounce marijuana (fresh leaves and flowers of a female plant preferred)
4 cups warm milk
2 tablespoons blanched and chopped almonds
1/8 teaspoon garam masala [a mixture of cloves, cinnamon, and cardamon]
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 to 1 teaspoon rosewater
1 cup sugar
Bring the water to a rapid boil and pour into a clean teapot. Remove any seeds or twigs from the marijuana, add it to the teapot and cover. Let this brew for about 7 minutes. Now strain the water and marijuana through a piece of muslin cloth, collect the water and save. Take the leaves and flowers and squeeze between your hands to extract any liquid that remains. Add this to the water. Place the leaves and flowers in a mortar and add 2 teaspoons warm milk. Slowly but firmly grind the milk and leaves together. Gather up the marijuana and squeeze out as much milk as you can. Repeat this process until you have used about 1/2 cup of milk (about 4 to 5 times). Collect all the milk that has been extracted and place in a bowl. By this time the marijuana will have turned into a pulpy mass. Add the chopped almonds and some more warm milk. Grind this in the mortar until a fine paste is formed. Squeeze this paste and collect the extract as before. Repeat a few more times until all that is left are some fibers and nut meal. Discard the residue. Combine all the liquids that have been collected, including the water the marijuana was brewed in. Add to this the garam masala, dried ginger and rosewater. Add the sugar and remaining milk. Chill, serve, and enjoy.
“Recipe From Flavors of India by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff.”
History of Bhang
Bhang was first used as part of the Hindu rite in India around 1000 BC and soon became an integral part of Hindu culture. The herb was devoted to Lord Shiva on Shivratri, a Hindu festival.
Sadhus and Sufis use Bhang to boost meditation and to achieve transcendental states. Bhang or cannabis is also used amongst Sufis as an aid to spiritual ecstasy.
The nihang sect of the Sikh community are one of the consumers of bhang and in their terminology, it is called Sukhnidhan.It started as an ayurvedic medicine wherein, the main use for the Nihangs was to aid in reducing pain from battle wounds, and digestive assistant. However, today abuse of bhang has become an addiction among the Nihangs. and one of major problems encountered by the Sikh religion.
The tradition of consuming bhang during Holi is particularly common in North India where Holi itself is celebrated with a fervor unseen elsewhere
Bhang is heavily consumed in Mathura, an ancient town of religious importance to the Hindus. Here the practice is believed to have been introduced by the followers of Lord Krishna and has stayed over since. The Choubey community or the Chaturvedi’s of Mathura have a long history of consuming Bhang on a daily basis. They begin the preparation by Sanskrit chants and recitation of prayers to Lord Shiva. Some people from Mathura take Bhang to work up their appetite while others do it to relieve themselves of stress. But the hub of bhang use is Varanasi or Banaras, the Land of Shiva, where the bhang is prepared on its famous ghats.
Anywhere on the ghats, one can find large number of men engaged in the process of preparing bhang. Using mortar and pestle, the buds and leaves of cannabis are ground into a green paste. To this mixture milk, ghee and spices are added. The bhang base is now ready to be made into a heavy drink, thandai, an alternative to alcohol; this is often referred to casually, if inaccurately, as a “bhang lassi” (lassi being a better-known and similar drink). Bhang is also mixed with ghee and sugar to make a green halva, and into peppery, chewy little balls called ‘golee’ (which in this context means candy or pill in Hindi).
Being so ancient, bhang has become an integral part of Indian tradition that it has become symbolic for many things.
It is associated with Lord Shiva, as the cannabis plant is regarded as holy by Hindus.
In some sections of rural India, people believe in the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant. If taken in proper quantity, bhang is believed to cure fever, dysentery and sunstroke, to clear phlegm, quicken digestion, appetite, cure speech imperfections and lisping, give alertness to the body.
In Nepal, on the day of Hindu festival Maha Shivaratri, bhang is taken in different forms such as smoke, mixed with sweets and drink. Offering bhang to lord Shiva is a common practice during the festival.