It’s a “gotta-have” drink, especially today, on Kojaagiri Pournima. Actually, I wouldn’t really mind this sweet, soothing beverage on a slightly chilly autumn night or even otherwise. The beautiful fall season is at its peak now and it feels just like the post Monsoon times in India, when the rainy season comes to an end, the days are not that hot and the nights get cooler. Except, its colder here as compared to the weather in India (…I am not complaining at all!) and the colorful foliage here makes it a truely exhilarating experience for the eyes.
Kojaagiri Pournima brings back sweet memories from my childhood days. I was never into the religious significance of this day, but I remember being excited about that little gift I would get every year on this day. I used love it! I am the eldest of the three siblings and on this day, I was given special honor for being the eldest child in the family. Even today I get a little something - a phone call from mom Now I carry on the tradition and give a small gift to my little girl.
This day also reminds me of the good ol’ times with my friends from Prabhat Road, Lane no. 9! The kids and aunties in our neighborhood in Pune got together on our bunglow’s terrace to celebrate the full moon night, playing games and singing “antakshari” songs under the moonlight. Sometimes we kids used to set up a little dance number or a skit to entertain all the aunties in da house. Following the entertainment program, used to be a potluck dinner that would end with a special dessert drink….the Masala Doodh.
The Masala Doodh is made by boiling milk with sugar and a special masala made with nuts and spices. When I was studying at Rutgers, my dear friend, Rupa and my roomie then, showed me how to make this masala at home, as we couldn’t find the readymade product in the Indian stores. Here’s my version…..
(Spiced Warm Milk)
2 cups milk (whole/reduced/lowfat. I would not recommend skim milk for this drink)
sugar, to taste
3-4 saffron strands, for garnishing
For the masala:
5-6 almonds, blanched, coasely chopped
5-6 cashews, coarsely chopped
5-6 pistachios, deshelled
10 green cardamom pods (elaichi), use only seeds, coarsely crushed
quartered piece of nutmeg or 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
1 pinch saffron strands
Alternatively, use 2 tsp Everest Kesari Milk Masala
Grind the ingredients of the masala in a small grinder to a coarse-fine powder. (A coffee grinder would be perfect!). Store left over in the refrigerator.
In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, add sugar and 2 tsp of the ground masala. Simmer for 5-10 mins, stirring occassionally. Let it sit for about 5 mins, so that the milk assimilates the masala and gets a beautiful yellow color.
Pour in individual glasses/cups. Garnish with saffron strands and serve warm.