Bhang is one of the most traditional and time honored forms of marijuana edibles, or rather ‘drinkables,’ in the world. Throughout Northern India, it is a popular way of ingesting the herb and an integral part of Hindu culture.
Let’s take a look at precisely what bhang is and how you can prepare your own refreshing cannabis-based beverage at home.
What is Bhang?
Technically speaking, bhang is the name given to a paste made from the leaves and flowers of the female marijuana plant. However, the word has also become synonymous with a beverage that is prepared using the paste.
Bhang is made by soaking marijuana leaves and flowers in water and then grinding them to a paste. The paste is traditionally rolled into balls called bhang goli which are smooth, shiny, and green to dark brown in color.
One of the most common uses for bhang is making a drink known as ‘bhang thandai.’ It also contains milk, ground nuts, and a variety of spices. Bhang thandai is typically drunk during religious festivals such as Holi, and bhang is a major part of Hindu culture thanks to its association with Shiva, the god of destruction. Although this may sound ominous, destruction is not seen as a negative trait in Hinduism as it allows new life to be created.
Among the many stories about Shiva in the Hindu religion, one states that he descended from the Hindu Kush mountain range, bringing bhang with him as a gift to humankind. The god himself is said to use bhang on a daily basis to enhance his powers, and he is sometimes known as the ‘Lord of Bhang.’ The association between Shiva and bhang is so strong that the god even has a marijuana strain named after him. Check out our strain review of Shiva Skunk to learn more.
Using bhang is a commonplace and socially acceptable practice in India. It is so widespread that when the British colonized the country in the 19th century, they decided that outlawing its use would cause too much civil unrest. As a result, they allowed the consumption of bhang to continue, and it can still be bought in government-sanctioned stores today, especially in Northern regions of the country.
Benefits of Bhang
As well as having religious uses, bhang has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It is one of the five sacred plants mentioned in the Atharva Veda (an ancient Hindu text compiled around 2000–1400BC). Among its many reported benefits, bhang is said to relieve the following conditions:
- Digestive issues
- Headaches and migraines
- Pain and rheumatism
Of course, we now know that the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids produced by the cannabis plant have a wealth of benefits for human health. It seems that the Hindus were a step ahead of the game in regards to recognizing the many advantages of the plant.
However, the uses of bhang are not limited to healthcare. Sadhus (Hindu holy men) use the preparation to aid them in their mediation and yogic practice, and according to legend, ancient warriors would use bhang to calm their nerves before a battle. One such legend tells of how the preparation gave an anxious soldier the courage to slide underneath an armed elephant and slay it, thus leading his army to victory.
Bhang is also revered as a powerful aphrodisiac and is often used by couples on their wedding night. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the most famous sexual guide ever written, the Kama Sutra, was published in a country where cannabis is such a significant part of everyday life!
Bhang Thandai Recipe
If you like the sound of bhang and would like to make your own refreshing marijuana beverage at home, you’ll be pleased to hear that the process is not too complex. There are numerous ways to prepare your bhang thandai, and a quick internet search will throw up dozens of different methods of making the drink.
In India, it is easy to walk into a bhang store, buy some goli, and crumble the paste into a food processor with the other ingredients. However, here in the western world, we have to get a little more creative.
To make bhang in the most traditional way possible, you will need some special equipment such as a mortar and pestle. Once you have this, it is easy to make your own infused beverage with just a little effort.
Here is a simple bhang thandai recipe for you to try at home.
Bhang Thandai Recipe (serves two)
For our bhang thandai recipe, you will need the following equipment and ingredients:
- Large saucepan with lid
- Mortar and pestle
- Fine mesh strainer or muslin cloth
- ½ – 1 ounce of fresh cannabis leaves and flowers (see note)
- 2 cups of water
- 3 cups full-fat milk
- ½ cup sugar or honey
- 2 tbsp ground almonds
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground fennel seeds
- ¼ tsp garam masala
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ½ – 1 tsp rosewater
- Chopped pistachios to garnish (optional)
- Place the water in a pan on the stovetop and bring to the boil.
- While you wait, finely chop your cannabis leaves and flowers.
- Add the cannabis to boiling water and remove from heat.
- Cover and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
- Strain to remove the plant material from the water and set liquid aside.
- Place the milk in a pan and warm on the stovetop.
- Place the cannabis in a mortar and pestle with a couple of teaspoons of the warm milk and grind to a paste.
- Continue adding more milk a couple of teaspoons at a time and grinding until you have used around half a cup.
- Strain the plant material from the milk and set liquid aside.
- Squeeze the paste to ensure that you get out all of that marijuana goodness.
- Add together the water and milk that were used to extract the cannabinoids and mix well.
- Stir in the remaining milk, spices, ground almonds, and rosewater along with sugar or honey to taste.
- Chill and stir well before serving.
This recipe calls for fresh cannabis leaves and flowers. If you are a grower, it is an ideal way to use up your unwanted fan leaves and trim. It is possible to make the recipe using dried and cured cannabis flower, but it will be more difficult to make the paste the right consistency. Using dried bud may also make your bhang thandai more potent, and you should adjust the quantity you use accordingly.
Getting the Most Bhang for Your Buck
Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are fat-soluble, so to maximize their absorption, you need to mix them into a vehicle with a high fat content. Therefore, it is best to make your bhang thandai using full-fat cow’s or goat’s milk.
If you’re vegan, you could try using plant-based milk to make your bhang thandai, but it may not be as potent. For the best results, choose milk that has a higher than average fat content such as coconut milk. You can also increase the fat content of your bhang by adding a spoonful of yogurt, ghee, melted butter, or coconut oil to the finished mixture.
What is Bhang? Final Thoughts
Bhang is a traditional way of consuming marijuana, and it is popular among the Hindu population of Northern India. It is used to aid relaxation and meditation, as well as having a range of potential benefits for health.
Bhang thandai is a drink that is typically made from bhang and drunk during religious festivals. It is simple to make your own bhang thandai at home with just a few basic pieces of equipment, and it makes a tasty and refreshing way to enjoy your weed.
If you have ever used edibles, you will know that consuming cannabis in this way has powerful effects and can take anywhere up to two hours to kick in. Therefore, it is wise to exercise some caution when drinking bhang and start with a small amount first. Once you know how bhang is going to affect you, you can increase the dose to a level that suits you.
For more delicious ways to consume your weed, check out our recipes page at wayofleaf.com.