This recipe was inspired by a very special devi, Chinnamasta Stiles, who sipped this drink slowly in between sharing the secrets of deep healing through Ayurveda, Yoga and Tantra. Last month I had the honor of tuning in to this master class live online, a new special offering through their Yoga Therapy Center in San Francisco. Chinnamasta and her partner, Mukunda Stiles, have been quietly influencing my life now since my mother became their devoted student last year. I get to live vicariously through her time with them, and I keep my fingers crossed that someday I can attend the Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy training, too. Until then, I’ll be sipping this cooling summertime elixir and absorbing all the deep wisdom I can.
This milk is a nutritive, cooling elixir. Made from soaked almonds, saffron, cardamom and raw honey to sweeten, it is best served chilled with a sprinkle of cardamom or saffron on top. Both saffron and cardamom are Ayurvedic cooling spices known to balance Pitta in summertime. In India, this is a classic summer drink called “Kesar Badam Milk” – kesar meaning saffron and badamn is almond. It’s traditionally made with almonds, whole milk, sugar and spices, but I skipped the whole milk and cane sugar to make this a little raw and (sort of) vegan-friendly version. If you’re concerned about the raw honey and true vegan status, you can always sub the honey for pitted dates instead.
I’ve been sipping this each morning after I do my journaling and meditation practice. It’s softly sweet way to start the day and leaves me feeling surpassingly satisfied. It’s also an incredible flavor boost to my banana ice creams, made by blending frozen bananas and a 1/4-1/2 cup of this almond milk. So many wonderful cooling options, I highly recommend always keeping a bottle of this on hand in your fridge.
SAFFRON CARDAMOM ALMOND MILK
1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
5 cups pure water
1 tsp ground cardamom
10 threads saffron
2 tbsp raw honey (or desired amount of sweetener)
If you have time, soak the almonds overnight. This helps release the phytic acid compounds that inhibit our body from absorbing the nuts nutrition. If you are short on time, then soak for 5-10 minutes in water to rinse any chemicals, molds are dirt stuck the nuts. Pour off the water and transfer the nuts to a high-speed blender. Combine the remaining ingredients and blend for 1-2 minutes until creamy. Pour the milk through a fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag to separate the pulp from the milk. Store in a glass container in your jar. Enjoy a tall glass on it’s own, or in smoothies, teas, coffee, and even cereals.
Note: You can discard the pulp or spread it onto a dehydrator sheet or baking sheet to allow to dry. The dried almond pulp can be ground again to make a fine almond flour for baked goods and other tasty desserts. Transfer the flour to a jar and store in your freezer.