While researching Sikhism for a recent flash fiction story, one of our staff members came across an interesting fact concerning a sect of holy monks called Nihangs, who were reputed as being savage protectors of Sikhism, dressed in electric blue turbans and brandishing all manner of weapons like the chakram (a sharply-edged brass circle worn on the turban or around the wrists, even twirled around the index finger while holding a spear or sword- a technique called tajani). While their fighting techniques and ceremonial decor is something we find fascinating, what really spiked our interest was the ritual of drinking Bhang, which is short for Bhang Thandi (a mixture of cannabis, milk, spices, and sugar). It was rumored that the Nihang hunters of the Punjab would venture into the forests in search of man eating tigers or lions that were terrorizing the neighboring villages, and that while hunting, the "crocodiles" as is the literal meaning of Nihang, would eat cannabis to aid with the digestion process and prepare them for battle. It is said, that Bhang helps the warrior thrive in battle, because he is vigilant and without fear. Of course there are far more complexities to the actual rituals, and even though it is sometimes questioned in the Sikh faith, for all likes and purposes ingesting Bhang Thandi serves the same principle for the Nihang, that communion serves for the Catholics. Flesh of my flesh. Herb of my herb.
-recipe per some website-
1 1/2 liter - Water
1 1/2 cups - Sugar (chini)
1 cup - Milk
1 tbsp - Almonds (badam)
1 tbsp - Watermelon/Cantaloupe seeds (dried and skinned) (kharboje ke beej)
1/2 tbsp - Poppy seeds (khus khus)
1/2 tbsp - Aniseed
1/2 tsp - Cardamom powder (elaichi powder)
1 tsp - Peppercorns (whole) (sabut kali mirch)
15 cannabis (bhaang)
1/4 cup - Dried or fresh rose petals (gulab ki pati)
1) Take a pan and add 1/2 litre of water and sugar to it. Let it saok for 2 hours.
2) Now in a separate bowl soak all the other dry ingredients in 2 cups of water for minimum 2 hours. After 2 hours grind these soaked ingredients into a fine paste.
3) 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.
4) Now to this strained mixture add milk and sugar syrup.
5) Add the cardamom powder in the milk.
6) Keep it for chilling in the fridge for 2 -3 hours before serving.
7) Serve it cold with some chopped almonds.
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