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Bhang Thandai –The Elixir of India
Author: Aditi Shah
Source: www.coloursofindia.com
Metal pichkaris may have given way to their snazzier, plastic Chinese counterparts and vegetable dyes may have been outsmarted by their yuckier chemical brothers but some aspects of Holi remain unchanged over time. – the most popular of them is the use of cannabis in the form of bhang, derived from dried leaves of the plant that grows all over northern India, especially in the Terai. Interestingly, like alcohol (as in Somras), cannabis consumption too has religious sanction in India, especially in the north. Some believe that the herb finds a mention in the Atharva Veda. It’s also huge among the community of Godmen, millions of whom blithely, and openly, smoke pot or ganja.

In cities, though, cannabis consumption thrives mainly on Shivratri day with Lord Shiva’s devoted bhakts gulping down thandai once they’re done with offering Him bhang leaves. And, of course, on Holi when people make cannabis indica a dietary supplement. Kind of makes you wonder why bhang is still illegal in parts of India, doesn’t it?

Well, regardless, here is a rough and ready guide on how to do Bhang. Please do note, however, that unlike bhang, ganja and charas — also cannabis derivatives — are seriously illegal and dangerous.

Bhang Delicacies

The most popular of them all is the Bhang laced Thandai:

Bhaang is prepared by grounding the buds and leaves of Cannabis using a mortar and pestle into a green paste. It is mixed with milk, ghee, and spices to prepare a nutritious, refreshing drink known as Thandai, which is intoxicating in nature.

Ingredients :

1 1/2 liter - Water 1 1/2 cups - Sugar 1 cup - Milk 1 tbsp - Almonds 1 tbsp - Watermelon/Cantaloupe seeds (dried and skinned) 1/2 tbsp - Poppy seeds 1/2 tbsp - Aniseed 1/2 tsp - Cardamom powder 1 tsp - Peppercorns (whole) 1/4 cup - Dried or fresh rose petals (Gulkand variety)

Method :

Soak sugar in 1/2 liter of water and all other dry ingredients in 2 cups of water for at least 2 hours. Grind all soaked ingredients (not sugar) to a very fine paste. Mix remaining water to the paste and strain it using a strong muslin strainer to extract the liquid into a vessel until the residue becomes dry. Add milk and sugar to the extracted liquid. Mix the cardamom powder in the milk. Chill for an hour of two before serving.

Other ways to enjoy bhang are :

Bhang water : Pound cannabis leaves along with a little black pepper and sugar, dilute with water and drink up.

Bhang cocktail : Soak the ground leaves in warm water overnight to get rid of water-soluble impurities. Drain off, put in airtight jar and add chosen spirit. Seal the container and leave it be for a day or so. Then, strain the liquid and voila, your potion is ready. Mixing with fruit juice is recommended.

Bhang pizza: Sprinkle ground leaves as topping on pizza base and bake.

Bhang cake/halwa: Melt ghee in a pan, sprinkle finely crumbled leaves and stir gently for about half hour. The idea is to extract the THC (the chemical responsible for the high) into the fat. When the ghee’s done, sieve the mixture into a pan and leave to cool. Mix this fat with cake mix and bake. Or use this ghee to prepare halwa.

Bhang golees/pakodas: Golees are nothing but condiments and bhang leaves ground into fine paste and rolled into peppery, chewy little balls. You could also add finely powdered leaves to ‘pakoda’ batter, dip veggies in it and deep fry on medium flame until light golden.

After-affects of Bhang

The most important thing to note about bhang is that it takes a while to kick – atleast an hour. Most people assume that the consumption of bhang will ensure an instant kick and hence keep consuming large quantities and then…..wham! Best to start small and go slow.

Getting stoned is nothing like getting drunk. Alcohol can alter personality, make you unaware of who/where you are. On bhang, you’re definitely aware of the world and remain pretty much the ‘original’ you.

However, how one behaves when stoned depends on your emotional state before you take bhang. If you’re happy, you’ll stay cheery. If you’re depressed, you’ll stay low even when high. You could be mullered, hyper-active or verbally repetitive, and certainly drowsy once it really hits you.

Lastly, watch out for a feeling of “slowed time” — minutes will seem like hours. Obviously, driving a car’s a bad idea because of slowed reaction time. Also, too much bhang equals stilted conversation.

Now, you’re all set for lacing up your Holi this year with bhang!! Happy Holi!!!

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