Pumpkin Ginger Lassi

Pumpkin Ginger Lassi (1 of 4)

A lassi is a traditional, cooling Indian drink that can be either sweet, often mango flavoured, or salty. Many a restaurant has been guilty of serving a sweet mango lassi that is astoundingly, eyes squeezingly sweet. That level of sweetness usually overwhelms an excessive mango flavour that can’t possibly be natural. For me, the stifling sugariness of it drives me towards the salty option. Yet my thoughts drift to lightly sweetened home-made lassi using fresh fruit, such as this cherry lassi.

Pumpkin Ginger Lassi (3 of 4)

When the good people of The Society asked me to come up with a Thanksgiving recipe, it was the perfect opportunity to create a drink combining pumpkin with Indian flavours. In Australia we are headed for a blazing hot summer and lassi is a much loved summer drink in our household for its cooling, filling properties. This is a sweet, but not over sweet version that combines honey roasted pumpkin with ginger and other spices. Finally, a sprinkle of toasted pepitas adds a surprising crunch. If you are feeling adventurous, you could even spike it with a little gin for a cheeky cocktail.

Pumpkin Ginger Lassi (1 of 1)

Pumpkin Ginger Lassi

Get:
350-400g butternut pumpkin
3-4 cm piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1 cup milk of your choice
1 1/2 cups yoghurt
The insides of 2 cardamom pods, powdered
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder + extra
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
Generous pinch saffron (optional)
Honey or rice syrup to taste
Small handful pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Equipment:
Oven
Stove and frypan
High speed food processor

Make:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the pumpkin into large pieces (no need to remove skin) and rub the cut surfaces with honey. I used about 2 tsp for this. Roast on an oven tray for 25-30 mins or until very soft.

Scrape the pumpkin flesh out of its skin and place the flesh in the bowl of your food processor with the ginger, milk, yoghurt, cardamom, 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder, vanilla and about 1/4 cup honey or syrup. Blitz until well mixed and the ginger is shredded. If you think your food processor may not shred the ginger, finely grate it before adding it to the other ingredients. Taste and add more sweetener if desired, blitz again to mix. Place the lassi in the fridge to chill.

Place the pepitas in a frypan and toast on low heat for 3-4 minutes or until slightly browned and popping. Transfer to a bowl and toss in a small amount of cinnamon.

Serve the lassi chilled and sprinkled with the cinnamon tossed pepitas.

Pumpkin Ginger Lassi (2 of 4)

Spiced Orange Chocolate Spoons

Choc Orange spoons (1 of 4)

It is widely accepted in scientific circles that a little bit of chocolate every day does wonders for one’s general health, demeanor, muscular strength, bone density, complexion and sexual performance*.  Researchers have found that the substance can be taken in either liquid or solid form, hot or cold, in secret or with others of the same inclination**.  There is anecdotal evidence that sitting in one’s comfiest armchair and closing one’s eyes while taking this medication improves it’s efficacy, however further studies are required in this particular field***.  One point on which all scientists are in agreement is that the darker the chocolate the better****.

Here at the Therapeutic Chocolate Society, we strive to improve ease of administration of this highly efficacious therapy.  We strongly support consumption of chocolate in its solid form, pure and unmodified.  However if a liquid form improves ease of administration, and if the slightest hint of fragrant orange and warming cinnamon, with the subtlest of bites of fiesty cardamom improves the appeal of the treatment, we may have just the thing for you.

Choc Orange spoons (3 of 4)

Warm a cup of milk of your choice, hot enough to melt the chocolate but not so hot that it scalds your mouth. Stir gently with the chocolate spoon until all melted. Lick any residual chocolate off the spoon (it is important to consume the full dose).  Add a little sugar or sweetener if desired and sip until all gone.

You may feel a rich, creamy sensation coating the inside of your mouth.  You will experience a heat in your chest as the warm liquid trickles from your mouth to your stomach.  Approximately 100% of patients report a heady cocoa aroma that overtakes the remaining senses, a sprinkling of orange and spices lacing it’s edges.

All of these are normal and frequently reported side effects of hot chocolate made with Spiced Orange Chocolate Spoons.

Like life itself, it is a bittersweet experience of depth, complexity and ultimately, sweetness.

*This is likely completely fabricated.
**Also unproven
***There are no such studies being conducted, nor are there ever likely to be.
****This part may actually hold some truth.

Choc Orange spoons (4 of 4)

Spiced Orange Chocolate Spoons

Makes 12-14

Get:
150g good quality dark chocolate (I used 100g 70% + 50g unsweetened)
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
The insides of 4 cardamom pods, powdered

Make:

Lay out 12-14 teaspoons in a tray.  Alternatively you can use an ice cube tray.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 20-30 second bursts. Add the other ingredients.  Stir to mix well and place small amounts (about 1 1/2 tsp) of the mixture into the teaspoons or the sections of the ice cube tray.  If using the ice cube tray, insert wooden popsicle sticks into the centre of each cube of chocolate. Place in the fridge to set or in the freezer if there is a medical emergency requiring immediate chocolate treatment.

Stir into a cup of hot milk, sweeten if needed find an armchair and enjoy.

Like things extra chocolatey? Use two!

Choc Orange spoons (2 of 4)

Mum’s Natural Cough Remedy

For the past week I’ve been struck down with bronchitis, resulting in a pesky, guttural cough that is as unsavoury as it is exhausting.  To say that I’m not great at being a patient is putting it mildly.  It took me several days to see the doctor for some antibiotics, and a whole lot of parental coaxing to convince me to take time off work to recuperate.  Having time on my hands is something I always crave, but time combined with a physical inability to do things I want to do is not quite what I had in mind.  After almost a week at home, I am truly insufferable and yet this tiresome cough lingers.

All this whining has a purpose, I promise.  There is a natural relief for coughing and head colds that I want to share with you, something that my mother forces into me at times like this.  A few days ago I was home alone with Cookie the pooch, and on my second consecutive night of incessant coughing, an activity that seems to be incompatible with sleep.  Sometime around three am, I had had enough and was feeling borderline murderous.  When I got out of bed and turned the light on for the third time that night, (ignoring an exasperated gaze from the long-suffering Cookie who had the misfortune of sleeping in my room) I knew that a solution had to be found.

Turmeric Pepper Milk (1 of 3)

So the stove was lit, milk poured, pepper ground and white yellowed with turmeric.  A short boil later, I was sipping my mother’s medicine for the first time without her insistence.  To say it worked, the cough subsided and I enjoyed a few hours sleep for the first time in what felt like forever would be an admission that my mother is right.  That she told me so, and that I would’ve done well to listen earlier.  And we know, you and I, that we never admit such a thing, regardless of how old or supposedly mature we are.

There are no pretensions about this milk.  It may be, at least initially, one of the worst things you’ve ever put in your mouth.  I don’t sweeten mine anymore, but you can and I suggest you do the first few times.  Honey would be the obvious choice because of its soothing properties.  You could also use a nut milk or soy milk.  Be sure to drink it as hot as you can possibly manage.  I think it works partly because turmeric has known anti-inflammatory properties which have long been recognised in Ayurvedic medicine.  Pepper was thought to have the ability to clear congestion but my personal theory is that in such a high concentration, it just annihilates the sensation in the nerve endings in the throat.  For whatever reason, this concoction, while unappealing in taste, seems to work well as a natural cough suppressant, and will provide some flu relief also.

Please don’t tell my mother I said that.

So tell me, what natural remedies do your family members swear by?

Turmeric Pepper Milk (3 of 3)

Milk with Turmeric and Pepper

Makes 1 serve

Get:

1 cup milk
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp turmeric powder
Sweetener of your choice, to taste (optional)

Make:

Place all ingredients in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan and stir to disperse the turmeric.  Bring slowly to the boil and simmer on low heat for 2-3 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly and drink as hot as you can handle.

Sleep well and allow those around you to do the same.

Turmeric Pepper Milk (2 of 3)