You might not have heard of bhang before, but you’ve most likely felt its influence.
Throughout the centuries, the sacred plants of cannabis indica and cannabis sativa have provided innovation for many different products ranging from hemp rope and clothing to cannabis edibles and concentrates.
While most cannabis tokers and smokers are familiar with these products, they’re probably not as well-versed with the original cannabis edible called bhang.
If you haven’t been to India before, this is probably the first time you’ve heard of bhang before, and you wouldn’t be alone. While bhang is common in India, especially during the festival of Holi, tokers outside South Asia will not have had the chance to partake in the original cannabis edible.
Does Des this describe you? If so, don’t worry. Today, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about this historic and famous cannabis edible that’s still being consumed by Indian tokers today!
What is Bhang?
Bhang, or Bhang Lassi in its native India, is a historic cannabis-infused drink commonly consumed during the Indian festivals of Holi and Maha Shivaratri. While this infused cannabis beverage has many variations, the original recipe calls the mashing of cannabis leaves into a paste before milk, spices and other regional ingredients are added.
Bhang plays an essential role in the Hindu tradition and is a beverage that has many generations of religious ties. In the Hindu religion, the bhang is thought to be a kind of prasad, a kind of sacred offering, to the Hindu deity of Shiva.
Cannabis has incredible value within the Hindu religion, and the plant eventually became intrinsic to Hinduism as a whole. Shiva, the god of Hinduism, is often associated with the plant and is commonly referred to as the Lord of Bhang.
Within India, bhang and cannabis are often used in Ayurvedic medicine, an alternative form of medicine, to treat everything from anxiety and skin disorders to poor mood and pain.
Despite the religious and cultural importance of bhang and other Indian cannabis products such as charas and hash, marijuana is illegal in India. While such a ban would cause widespread suffering and annoyance for both recreational and religious consumers of cannabis, there’s a legal loophole in Indian law that allows you to possess hashish and ganja, but not the cannabis leaves themselves.
While hash and charas are illegal in India, it’s still possible to enjoy the effects of cannabis as long as only its leaves are consumed. Of course, this isn’t an ideal compromise, but for lovers of marijuana in India, this is, unfortunately, the only choice.
Bhang and marijuana wouldn’t have been considered a form of medicine if they didn’t at least provide some measure of benefit to their consumers. Cannabis has already been proven to provide some benefits in animal studies, so it wouldn’t be unfair to say that a drink made with the paste of cannabis leaves and endorsed by Shiva himself would be beneficial.
Here are some of the potential benefits that this popular Holi festival drink can provide:
A 2019 study found that cannabinoids could help fight against the spread of tumours and cancer cells. Bhang, a preparation made from the leaves of the cannabis plant, is packed with cannabinoids, terpenes and other cannabis compounds, providing much of the same benefits.
In one study, cannabis was discovered to relieve insomnia, sleep disturbances and reduce muscle spasms during sleep. Warm drinks before bedtime, such as milk or some sleepy-time tea, can help soothe the mind and relax the body before you catch some z’s. Add some cannabis-infused bhang into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for rest!
Many parts of India still use bhang as a form of alternative medicine. Throughout the years, the vital preparation of bhang and its use was passed down through traditional means and preserved by culture, and this was not without its reasons. Some trials conducted on animals found that cannabinoids reduced inflammation and helped relieve pain. Perhaps this was what Shiva was referring to when he said cannabis was sacred!
How To Make Bhang
Bhang is made from a few simple ingredients, with the majority of its flavour coming from regional herbs and spices added after the fact. If you want to make bhang at home, you really only need the leaves and flowers from the cannabis plant, some milk, sugar and spices! Here’s our recipe:
What You Will Need:
- 2 cups of water
- A pot
- Muslin cloth, cheesecloth or strainer
- Mortar and pestle
- 3 cups of milk
- Around 1/2 an ounce (14 grams) of fresh cannabis
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground fennel
- 1/2 tsp ground anise
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp rosewater
- 1/2 cup honey or sugar
- Leaves or chopped nuts as garnish
Step 1: Boil the Leaves and Flowers
Bring two cups of water to a boil before adding half an ounce of fresh cannabis. Remove the pot from heat and allow the cannabis to steep for 7 to 10 minutes. Remove and strain
Step 2: Grind the Paste
After allowing the leaves and flowers to cool, squeeze and wring any remaining water out before returning them to the pot. While still slightly moist, mash the plant matter with your mortar and pestle while slowly adding teaspoons of hot milk. THC is not fat-soluble, so the fat from the milk will help absorb the cannabinoids.
Step 3: Collect The Infused Milk
Once your milk and marijuana mixture has turned a shade of green, it’s ready to be removed. Transfer the milk into another bowl and wring out the leaves before repeating the process until you have half or a full cup of infused milk. The more infused milk you have, the stronger and more potent the bhang.
Step 4: Spices and Seasoning
At this stage, your bhang is ready for consumption. If you’d like to add any spices and seasonings, this is the time to do it. To infuse your bhang with herbs, grind them in a mortar and pestle with a small amount of heated milk until they’re a fine paste. Mix this paste into the bhang and stir to combine.
Step 5: Enjoy
Once everything has been infused and combined, your bhang is ready to be enjoyed. At this stage, you can lightly warm the milk up again in a small pot until it’s to your liking.
Bhang – The First Cannabis Beverage
Bhang is sacred within India and Hinduism and not without good reason. While the smoking and consumption of cannabis is illegal within India, bhang has such cultural importance that the Indian government has endorsed a legal loophole to allow for its continued consumption.
Now that you’ve read this article, we hope that you’re more able to appreciate this historic drink and the impacts it’s made on the cannabis community!