I had tried and loved kehva as a teenager when our family visited Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. The steaming cup of the mildly spicy perfumed beverage unexpectedly re-entered my memory today, after more than 25 years, and I wanted to make and drink it right away. Having a sensitive palate (which is both a blessing and challenge), reverse engineering a dish or a drink comes naturally to me. So I decided to create my cup of kehva without looking for a recipe online. I wanted my cup quickly, instantly actually, and so I simultaneously put on my thinking cap and started rummaging through my pantry, after I turned my electric kettle on.
Here is how I made my version of Kehva.
- A cup of boiling water heated in a kettle
- 1 tea bag of Organic black tea (I had and used the Stash brand, but any brand will do)
- Half of a packet of Prince of Peace Ginger Honey Crystals
- A few strands of saffron
- A heaping spoon of Sun Potion’s Tocos
- A generous sprinkling of organic powdered cardamom powder
- Raga Pahadi (Raga of the mountains) playing in the background
Remember, I wanted my kehva instantly, so I did not bother with a pot or a stove. The cup is where the alchemy and magic happened. After dunking the tea bag in the boiling water for about a minute, I took it out and tossed it, as I did not want the drink to have a strong taste of black tea.
Next, the saffron strands and the ginger-honey crystals went into the cup. The melody of the Pahadi music in the background and the intention in my heart seemed to transfer to my fingertips as I coaxed the ginger-honey crystals to melt in the cup and the saffron strands to infuse the tea with fragrance. Then, I added a heaping spoon of Vitamin D and E rich Tocos into the cup and mixed it in. Tocos, made from rice bran, is a recent ‘superfood’ discovery that adds creamy goodness to beverages and desserts. A new and beloved (and somewhat expensive) food crush, I drink beverages all day long just so that I can add a spoon of Tocos to them. As a finishing touch, I added a sprinkling of powdered cardamom to the cup.
The hallowed cup was ready and supremely satisfying.
After finishing off the cup, I discovered online that kehva is traditionally made with green tea leaves. Cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds and slivered almonds are also added to the drink and milk is usually omitted. At least I got that part right.
If a cup of chai is delicious, a cup of kehva can put you in a state of bliss. It is like the Pahadi raga in a cup. It is also a tonic in a cup. Saffron has been clinically proven to ward off depression. Zingiber officinale (ginger) is your everyday, highly accessible and affordable, superfood. A powerful antioxidant, it is also a cherished anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial spice. Research studies suggest that ginger can help maintain cognitive function in middle aged women. Everyone must have at least one robust and honest encounter with it everyday. In addition, ginger and cardamom are excellent for digestion and circulation. Black tea is black tea. And oh, that beautiful Tocos, I could write another paragraph about it, but I have already raved about it
Whether you make kehva the traditional way, my hip-hop way, or your own way, this gorgeous drink will make this winter a little more cozy, a tad warmer and a lot more fragrant. Do give it a whirl.