Mama’s Punjabi Recipes – Badam Wala Dudh (Hot Almond Milk Tonic)


This recipe can’t really be called a dish as it is more of a remedy that can cure flu and cold symptoms, but it was a drink that my children, nieces and nephews liked so much that they would ask for it during the cold months like a sweetened milkshake. It is considered a tonic for those who have to study hard or do work requiring mental concentration.

But the truth is that this was the hot milk that we would drink during the frigidly cold months of winter in the western Punjab plains while sitting around the warmth of the chulla (clay hearth) and exchanging gossip about the day’s happenings with the extended family. We grew up by the banks of the River Jhelum in the small town of Jhung, close to our lands which was farmed by leaseholders. In the winters our storage rooms would be full of the produce of grains and nuts from the harvests.

This drink had its origins in the farm west Punjab but was influenced by the far Northwest Frontier provinces where the winters are longer. The whole area was – and still is – known for its trade in dried fruits and our nani (maternal grandmother) would make this hot milk drink with cracked whole almonds roasted in gheyo (clarified butter).

Nani would tell us the hot almond milk would melt the frozen portions of our sinus passages, unclog our heads, free up our lungs by giving us a boost of energy. She would quote a Punjabi folk saying:

Dudh peetheyan budh vadde (drinking milk increases the brain),

Teh ghee khaade khopadri (and eating ghee the head);

Maas khaade maas vadde (eating meat increases the flesh),

 Teh unn khadde ohjadri (and eating flour increases the stomach).


2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

15 badam (almonds), unpeeled

1 cup doodh (milk, preferably 2% fat)

1 tsp chinni (sugar) to taste


1.  Cover the almonds with a muslin cloth and smash them with a pallet. You can also crush them in a blender, but make sure not to powder them.

2.     In a small saucepan, heat the ghee, then throw in the crushed almonds and roast them till slightly brown and no more than a minute.

3. Pour in the milk and as the mixture comes to a boil, throw in the sugar and mix.

 4.   Turn off the heat, pour into a tall cup and sip. You may need a spoon for the almonds.

mamas recipe inside3

Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.