Charnamrit - 1, A Sweet drink offered after Hindu Prayers
Charnamrit - 1
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The word Charnamrit means 'nectar from the feet of God'. It is made of two words, charan=feet & Amrit=mythological nectar from Gods, that makes one (the soul and not the body) live for ever. It is offered at the end of Hindu prayer meetings, in temples as well as at home. Traditionally, it was served directly onto the right cupped palm, held over the left cupped palm and sipped from there. These days, it is customary to serve it in tiny earthenware pots called ‘shakoras/kashoras’, smaller versions of 'kulhar/kulhad'. Each pot holds approximately 20 ml. You only need to serve a tablespoonful per person. The amount below will be enough for 25-30 people.
500 ml. or 1 pint chilled cow’s milk (no other type of milk is used for Charnamrit)
125 ml. fresh ‘set’ yoghurt, made from cow's milk
150 gm. or to taste sugar. Use sweetener for diabetics
2 tbsp. honey. Use sweetener for diabetics.
2-3 tbsp. fresh grated or dessicated coconut
25 gm. raisins, soaked in hot water (to make them swell up)
25 gm. Chiraunji/charoli (Cudpah Nut), small beige coloured nuts, Buchanania latifolia, which can be bought from Indian grocers.
1 tsp. Ganga-jal, holy water from the river Ganges (not absolutely essential, unless you are an orthodox Hindu)
A large pinch of illaichi or green cardamom powder
1 handful of basil leaves, washed and broken roughly
20 makhane*. They float in the liquid and give the drink a nice texture.
4-5 drops of ghee or clarified butter
Dry roast the makhanae in a wok, until very lightly browned and crisp or microwave on full for 3-4 minutes, stir and leave to cool. Chop them up in small pieces and keep aside.
Mix milk and yoghurt, using a spoon. Do not beat. The texture of broken up bits of yoghurt is part of this dish.
Add all other ingredients and stir (do not beat).
Serve after prayers in very small cups.
Serve it with Kassar.
*Makhanas or Gorgon Nut or Fox Nut(Euryale ferox) are the seeds of a plant from lotus family, which has purple flowers not dissimilar to lotus or water lilly flower. This is why they are sometimes confused with and described as puffed lotus seed, which they are not. The plants are cultivated in ponds all over northern India, especially in Bihar. The Makhanas that we use as food are the puffed kernels of the seed pod.
It is quite a delicious and refreshing drink in it's own right.
If Makhane are difficult to get hold of, add some chopped nuts like cashew or blanched almonds.