simple turmeric milk / haldi doodh (df, v)

March 1, 2021

When I was little I wanted nothing to do with haldi milk. It was yellow, too pronounced, and usually administered during another bout of my recurrent tonsillitis. As an adult, like with so many things I didn’t like as a kid, I feel differently. Turmeric is a spice indigenous to India and ubiquitous in South Asian cooking. It’s prized for its stunning hue and health benefits. Classic haldi doodh, in the Ayurvedic tradition, is a combination of turmeric and warming spices such as pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon, gently simmered with whole milk and sweetened afterwards with raw honey. If you’d like to learn more about its roots, here’s a link to learn about the history, traditional elements, and health benefits. It’s done a little differently in homes across the subcontinent, sometimes with whole ingredients that are infused in the milk, other times with ground spices. In a quick review of my childhood friends, it seems each family had its own rather simple iteration – turmeric with one or two other spices. It could also be simmered with ghee, though my mother would only give it to me like that postpartum. This version stays close to its original roots, but it’s slightly less intense; more soothing than full-on medicinal. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the taste of turmeric, and when paired with cinnamon and ginger, I actually like that slightly heated burn – especially when it’s rounded out with the sweetness of honey.

For this recipe I’d encourage you to use high quality, additive free almond milk – homemade would be amazing, but of course, whatever you have on hand. As I mentioned, whole milk is traditionally used, but in the modern kitchen you need to make the substitutions that work for you. For vegan friends, just sub with maple syrup or sweetener of choice and you’ll still be golden.

simple turmeric milk / haldi doodh

makes 1 cup


1 cup almond milk (coconut would also be nice)
¼ cup water
¼ tsp turmeric
a dash of cinnamon
a generous pinch ground ginger
a pinch of ground pepper (or three cracks from a pepper mill)
one cardamom pod – cracked
½ inch of a vanilla bean scraped or 1/8 tsp vanilla essence (optional and not traditional)
1 tsp raw honey (or maple syrup)


In a small pot, add milk and water and warm on medium heat. Add in turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, vanilla (optional), and a cracked cardamom pod (I crack it by giving it a little bite at the centre). Bring to a gentle simmer, whisking a little to incorporate the spices. Let it simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes, 5 is better if you have the time. Once the milk is creamy and the spices have had time to infuse, pour into a mug and stir in the honey. That’s it, so simple.


*the spices tend to settle at the bottom of the mug, so I keep a little spoon nearby to give a stir now and then as I drink it.

*watch out for your counter and your clothes – turmeric has a deep, deep hue. I always wipe any counter spill right away and it’s always fine, but I’m extra careful with it around my clothes. (my husband is our counter-stain police, so tends to hover around whenever he smells turmeric-related cooking.)

*you can add ½ a tsp to a whole tsp of coconut oil or ghee if you’d like to stay true to the origins of the traditional drink and enhance the absorption of turmeric.

*the amount of turmeric and ginger can be increased quite a bit to reap the full benefits of each ingredient. you could do ½ a tsp of turmeric and a ¼ tsp of powdered or grated ginger, but the flavour will be quite intense.

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