Hot sweltering days and warm nights – How I am reminded slightly of those sometimes unbearable times in the humid heat of Karachi. Pakistan is diverse with climate, but Karachi (in the province of Sindh) is pretty blessed with one constant – everlasting sunshine that’s is rather relentless. But I would take that over cold misery any day!
In Pakistani cuisine, we have a clear definition of foods that have “Garam” or “Thanda” – with Hot or cold properties. This defines what climate or physical state you can eat them in. For example foods that are Garam should only be eaten in winter to warm the mind and body or when you are weak and especially in cold weather – Thanda food is to be consumed when the climate which won’t make you sick, i.e. warm weather. The constitution of such foods are cool, hence are meant to cool the mind and body. Almonds in our cuisine are meant to be Garam, but soaking them alters their constitution, rendering them Thanda. That might be why this almond drink, is supposed to be cooling and even though the addition of poppy seeds are garam, the aniseed (thanda) helps balance the elements and bring a sense of calmness to the mind and body.
My memories of drinking Thahdal, a Sindhi almond drink is what lead me to create this. I remember my Nani Mummy (Mum’s mum), making this on hot days when the electricity would be gone – to imagine she would grind the almonds by hand in on a sil batta (mortar and pestle) - I always think back to those days and my memories of my sweet grandmother; when I taste this drink. Other recollections are of buying Thahdal from road side vendors on warm, dry dessert winds in Karachi, and sipping this cool, nutty drink at the corner of the streets in ice cold stainless steel glasses. As I sipped this sweet cold almond-y nectar – I could literally feel every pore of my body thanking me for the magical effect this drink can have on you in the scorching sun. My version here brings the thirst-quenching properties of almond milk together with the texture of poppy seeds and fragrance of roses and aniseed.
I make this often at my Supperclub and everyone comments on how refreshing and moreish it is – to me it is the essence of home.
* 1 cup almonds, soaked in hot boiling water and left overnight; then peeled
(Ideally, wash the almond well and soak the almond overnight and peel, this is a labourous task – If you are inclined to be lazy, I’d suggest buying blanched almond and soaking them in hot boiling water for up to 2 hours before making the almond milk)
*1 cup of caster sugar (can be reduced, to taste)
*2 – 3 litres of cold water
*1 tbsp white poppy seeds
*2 tsp aniseed, ground
*1 tbsp dried edible rose petals, crushed by hand and sprinkled on top
Makes upto 2 – 3 litres, enough for about 8- 10 people
1. Grind the soaked almonds in the water they were soaked in, into a very find paste.
2. Heat the sugar with 2 -3 cups of water into a thin syrup, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Combine the almond paste with 2-3 litres of cold water and sugar syrup. Refrigerate for a few hours.
4. To serve mix in the poppy seeds, crushed aniseed and sprinkle with rose petals. Pour over ice.