• Turmeric lattes might seem like a new hipster trend, but they've actually been around for a long time. (Shutterstock / Instagram)
The new hipster caffeine alternative is actually a familiar favourite in other parts of the world.
By
Shami Sivasubramanian

23 Sep 2016 - 2:14 PM  UPDATED 27 Jan 2017 - 4:40 PM

Turmeric lattes have been popping up everywhere these past few months.  But for many Indian-Aussies, the new trend isn’t all that new.

Turmeric lattes are steamed milk beverages flavoured with golden turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sometimes even ginger.  The resultant concoction is a soothing, immuno-boosting, caffeine-free hot drink.

 

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But in the Subcontinent, the tradition of a pre-bedtime haldi doodh or turmeric milk (or for some golden milk) has been popular for centuries.

Though similar in purpose to a soothing mug of hot chocolate, its health benefits couldn't be more different. Milk fortified with the yellow root is said to boost the immune system, improve the skin, reduce joint pain, and relax the body for sleep. It’s also a common Ayurvedic treatment for the common cold.

 

Spice merchant diary: turmeric
This ancient spice was used in South Asia as long as four millennia ago.

Medicinal properties of turmeric

Turmeric is a herbal root, related to the ginger family, frequently used in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. The root has long been celebrated for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, being used in alternative medicine as both a topical treatment for cuts and acne, and an orally taken herbal antibiotic.

 

 

Fresh turmeric oozes a staining yellow juice and pungent smell, though it is also consumed as a dry powder. In either form, turmeric’s agent, curcumin is just as potent.

Other research shows turmeric has similar effects on the body to ginseng, which is said to improve cognitive function.

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Milk makes all the difference

Though turmeric tea is also a common way to consume the spice, turmeric is better absorbed by the body when served in a glass of warm milk.

It’s all because of the root’s low bio-availability, meaning its nutrients are readily released when consumed on its own. Cow’s milk provides just the right amount of fats and proteins to ensure the turmeric is absorbed alongside.

 

 

Like most herbal medicines, it can take several months to notice results in your health. Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisines add turmeric to daily dishes, just a pinch here or there, building up the effect of the root over time.

But the jury is still out on whether it’s better to heat the spices along with the milk, or to add your spices in after the milk has been steamed.

 

 

Haldi doodh vs Turmeric lattes

The recipe behind the Sub-continental tradition of turmeric milk is simpler than the fancy lattes you’ll find at your corner café.

Making homemade turmeric milk is as easy as adding a pinch of turmeric to a mug of steaming milk and sugar or honey to taste.  Some recipes call for pinch of pepper to be added for extra heat, or a garnish of saffron petals.

 

 

Barista-style turmeric lattes fortify the basic haldi doodh with more spices like ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, even topping the beverage with foam latte art.

So whether you call it haldi doodh, golden milk, or a latte, we can all agree the new cafe beverage is a trend that's here to stay. Especially, since it's already been around for so long! 

 

Thinking thoughts of turmeric?
Kunyit (turmeric) fried chicken

"This Malaysian favourite is ridiculously simple to put together. It's excellent as a casual starter or finger food and makes a superb beer snack. I must warn you to smack away any greedy fingers lurking around when you cook it up or you might find your portions somewhat dwindled!" Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co.

Spice merchant diary: turmeric
This ancient spice was used in South Asia as long as four millennia ago.
Turmeric and aniseed cake

"You can make this cake (sfouf) either square or round and I love having this for breakfast with a cup of tea or as a sweet treat in the afternoon with cup of coffee," says Jackie Chahine of Profiterole Patisserie. You will need a 20 cm cake pan for this recipe.