Bhang is an edible preparation of cannabis with roots in the Indian subcontinent and a traditional component of Ayurvedic medicine. It’s frequently enjoyed as a celebratory beverage during Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, and other holidays. Fresh, or sometimes dried, cannabis leaves and flowers are blended with liquid and various spices, nuts, and seeds (think cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, fennel, almonds, pumpkin seeds, to name a few) for a drink that is refreshing, herbal, earthy, and slightly spicy, with a hint of sweetness. It may also have a noticeably bitter or astringent scent, which is normal for cannabis-infused products.
You’ll find a variety of cannabis drinks at bhang shops across India, like bhang lassi (thickened with yogurt) and bhang goli (made with just cannabis and water). This recipe most closely resembles bhang thandai, a milky, lightly sweetened version flavored with aromatic rose water, cardamom, and fennel seed.
Since fresh cannabis plants aren’t widely accessible in the United States, BA associate food editor Rachel Gurjar opts to use dried plants here, which come in plenty of unique flavors. “The ones I used for developing this recipe smelled of fruity bananas and pair nicely with the warm spices,” Rachel writes.
Toasting the dried cannabis transforms the inactive cannabinoids (THCA and CBDA) into their active counterparts (THC and CBD). Dosing also plays a big part in the experience of ingesting products that contain THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical component responsible for cannabis’s psychoactive effect. But don’t worry: We’ve done the math for you. About ¼ cup bhang equals about 13 mg THC when using cannabis with a 20% THC concentration (note: Though dispensaries should list the THC percentage for their products, it can vary from roughly 10%–30%, depending on the strain). For a seasoned edible consumer, this would be considered a moderate dose. First timers may want to consider using half the amount of cannabis (0.25 g instead of 0.5 g) in this recipe, or portioning the drink’s serving size in half.