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Friday, July 15, 2011

What is Tukh Malanga?

 Summer is here (at least in South East Asia) and the mercury is rising all too rapidly. Everyday I check the latest weather update to see whether the temperature has finally risen to the 40+ °C that is the norm here in Karachi during the summer months. The high humidity levels make sure that every citizen has a short temper and an even shorter tolerance level for bullshit. Well it can't be THAT bad can it? Well it actually can as although some of us are lucky with the fixed 3 to 4 hour (sometimes only 2 hours a day) load shedding per day in Karachi; our brethren in the other provinces have to make do with more than 7 hour (8 or 10+ at one point) load shedding schedules. It is especially intolerable when a heat wave strikes accompanied by dry scorching winds.
It is at this hellish period of the year that we South Asians break out my two of my favourite 'heat beating' drinks the Lassi (Yogurt-based drink originated from Punjab) and Tukh Malanga/Tukham Malanga. Now Tukh Malanga is not actually a drink but is used in preparing many drinks as it is highly valued for its cooling and tonic properties. Tukh Malanga is also known by its second Urdu name as Naz Boo and are the seeds of the sweet basil or basilicum ocimum if you want the proper name. Commonly used in the Indian Subcontinent for preparing drinks it is also used in other parts of Asia for other or similar purposes.
I just can't get enough Tukh Malanga these days and usually skip a meal after having a glass or two of the drink. I will show how to make a simple version of the drink and for that you will need:
1 tablespoon Tukh Malanga (quantity according to your taste)
Milk (low-fat or whole)
Rooh Afsa (can be substituted with Jam-e-Shireen which is like Rooh Afza but sugar-free)
1 glass (or just drink the milk and swallow the ingredients lol)
2-3 Ice cubes

No ice in this image, since it would melt in the heat
Ok first of all for readers(if by some stroke of luck my blog is being read by people not living in the Indian Subcontinent) not familiar with Rooh Afza, I would recommend them to check out the website of the 100+ year old drink (since 1907)........ ok so I cant seem to access the Indian and Pakistani website but the Bangladeshi website works which wont be of much use to people who don't know Bengali. So here is the wikipedia link  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rooh_Afza) and a blog post by a fellow country man (http://pakistaniat.com/2007/10/07/ramzan-ramadan-rooh-afza-milk-red-bull-pakistan/)
Foreign folks can buy Rooh Afza from the local Indian or Pakistani supermarket or online from here (http://www.ayurvedaforall.com/106/sharbat-rooh-afza.html)

heavenly elixir
Right back to the topic on hand. So what you need to do is take a spoonful of  Tukh Malanga and mix it with water in a glass. Immediately you will notice that it starts to develop a jelly like covering. The general rule of thumb is a half glass of water for 1 tablespoon of tukh malanga.

A spoonful is more than enough
I would recommend filling the whole glass with water so that the tukh malanga can fully expand. If there is still some water left than you can use a spoon to scoop the extra water out or use a sieve . The fully expanded tukh malanga will look like this. If you notice some undeveloped seeds then don't worry as it happens and they are safe for you to drink as well.
I know it looks like frog eggs and that is what freaks out most people but not all stuff that is good for you looks tasty as well.

They look kind of errr......
After that add two or three(or more according to your taste) tablespoons of Rooh Afza/Jam-e-Shireen..

You can add more later if you think it needs more
Now just add some milk, stir vigorously and lastly 2 or 3 cubes of ice. And you have a refreshing beverage guaranteed to quench your thirst and satisfy you sweet tooth. Those of you who have never tried Rooh Afza with milk and Tukh Malanga should definitely give it a go; it is like nothing you have EVER tasted before.

It is sooo refreshing after a tiring day at the office
I myself love drinking it so much that I prepare mine in this behemoth of a glass..

2 to 3 normal glass(es) of water = 1 behemoth glass of water
So give it a try and comment on whether you liked it or not. For those of you who are new here, check out my earlier posts as well.
(Rooh Afza pic courtesy of FLICKR, click on photo for original link)

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