The Spices of Life

We all have go-to spices and condiments that make our meals memorable. Whether cooking at home or eating out, spices lend savory and sweet qualities to make food come alive for our palette. Table salt, black pepper, ketchup, mustard, a favorite blend from the grocery store or local restaurant, are all examples of spices and spice blends.

Ayurveda teaches that each spice, in fact each element, has specific qualities. These qualities have unique effects based on the body they are interacting with and also dependent on the qualities of the other ingredients in the dish, the season, any pre-existing imbalances in the person and the environment.

Sound complex? In fact, the science of food is both simple and complex, as I am sure you have realized. This series shares with you my go-to spices and spice blends, also known as masalas, that I use in order to get a specific digestive, mood and overall effect in my life, through my Ayurvedic lifestyle.

Each ingredient is carefully curated in a rich culture with centuries of usage behind it, with the particular qualities of each spice included for a specific purpose to balance out a dish.

Featured here is Goldenmilk.

Goldenmilk is the general term for cow's milk that is infused and heated with spices in order to aid in nutrient absorption and digestion. Each spice lends a particular quality. When I began practicing Ayurveda in earnest, I took the deep and heartfelt decision to bring milk into my diet. I did this in conjunction with a Shaka Vansiya (SV) Ayurvedic Doctor, who had specific recommendations for me to include milk in my diet.

After learning about the ancient role and sacredness of the cow as part of the family in Vedic culture, and not having eaten meat since 2007, I made the decision to incorporate organic, family farm milk into my diet. I learned through SV Ayurveda that milk has qualities of absorption that go deep into all 7 dhatus. (read more about dhatus and absorption from this wonderfully articulate post here.)

To this end, in order to aid in absorption of milk (decrease pitta), decrease mucus build up (kapha) in my system, I absolutely had to take spices seriously. Once I started using golden milk masala in my milk, I began to incorporate it easily into my baking and other dishes. Warm apples or pears with ghee in the morning, for example, with golden milk masala, is a staple for me and provides a soothing start to the day to wake up my digestion. The mixture works very well with my constitution.

To use the golden milk recipe with milk, warm the milk to boiling with the golden milk, optional to add a bit of ghee, and if you're going all out with sweetness, add a couple dates. Once the milk is warmed, place the mixture in the blender if you've added the dates, or simply drink warm.

This masala mixture is so easy and useful to have on hand for milk and baking, as the elements of the spices aid in sweetness without adding any actual sugar. I tend to make about 1/2 - 3/4 cup at a time and this will last 10 days - 2 weeks.

My basic golden milk recipe is below, in descending order of quantity ratios. Add twice the cinnamon as turmeric, twice the turmeric as cardamom, twice the cardamom as black pepper, and so on. Play around with the ratios, and if there is a spice you are interested in adding, research what the effects might be, consult with your certified Ayurvedic practitioner, and voila!, enjoy!:




Black Pepper

Also, you can try:



Sunthi (dried ginger)