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What is Bhang
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What Is Bhang And How Do You Make It?

5 min
Headshop Recipes

Find out about bhang, the traditional cannabis edible from India. Read about bhang’s colourful history and learn how to prepare bhang at home with three tasty and simple recipes!

Cannabis enthusiasts will be familiar with the various ways to enjoy cannabis, from smoking flower to devouring tasty edibles. But have you ever heard of bhang? Bhang is an edible cannabis preparation that has been used in India for thousands of years. Cannabis-infused drinks such as bhang lassi are part of ancient Hindu traditions and are still enjoyed today.

What Is Bhang?

What is bhang?

Bhang is a cannabis-infused concoction made from the crushed flowers, leaves, and sometimes stems of the cannabis plant. At its simplest, bhang is a paste-like cannabis extract that can be added to all manner of food and beverage. Most popularly, it is included in a beverage that mixes milk, fruit, sugar, and various spices such as ginger and fennel alongside the cannabis paste. The intoxicating drink is traditionally distributed during the spring festival of Holi and other Hindu ceremonies. It is particularly popular in North India and is widely sold in bhang shops. As bhang is believed to offer a variety of benefits, it also features in Indian Ayurveda.

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History Of Bhang

History of Bhang

In Hinduism, the custom of consuming cannabis for religious and spiritual purposes goes back thousands of years. Dating as far back as 2,000 BCE, and still popular today, it is one of the earliest cannabis traditions in the world.

Various myths exist about the origins of bhang in Asia. One myth from Southeast Asia tells us about Hindu gods churning the oceans to obtain the nectar of immortality. Wherever drops of the nectar fell on Earth, a cannabis plant sprouted. Anyone still doubt the plant’s divine origins?

In a variant of the story, precious stones came out of the ocean during the churning, but also a dangerous poison that could wipe out all creation. On Vishnu's advice, the terrified gods approached Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva didn’t hesitate and out of compassion drank the poison from the ocean. This inflicted great pain and turned his neck blue. The pain was almost too much, if it wasn’t for the goddess Parvati who prepared a drink of bhang that relieved Shiva's anguish. Having discovered the transcendental properties of the mixture, Lord Shiva also earned himself the byname “Lord of Bhang”.

In imitation of Lord Shiva, the holy men of India (sadhus) use bhang for meditation and to achieve transcendental states. Cannabis is also popular amongst Sufis as an aid to spiritual enlightenment.

What Are The Effects Of Bhang?

What Are The Effects Of Bhang?

Bhang is a cannabis edible just like any other, at least in the sense that it contains the same active cannabinoids like THC and CBD. As such, effects are comparable to traditional edibles, with some differences when it comes to dosing.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Psychoactive effects: Euphoria, creativity, new ideas and insights, serenity
  • Physical effects: “Stoned” effect, relaxation, sleepiness

Possible Side Effects Of Bhang

Edibles like bhang make it difficult to calculate an appropriate dosage. It’s much harder to determine the quality/potency of the marijuana used and how it was made. As such, it’s easy to take too much and experience unwanted side effects such as feelings of nervousness, confusion, increased heart rate, dry mouth, upset stomach, and the jitters. These side effects will not last forever, but they are uncomfortable in the moment.

A big part of the issue is that it may take 30–90 minutes for the effects of bhang to be felt. Inexperienced users often don’t wait long enough for the high to kick in and end up consuming too much as a result. Consuming bhang is much more potent than smoking cannabis, so the high can last for hours, if not the whole day, depending on potency, how much you ingest, your body weight, metabolism, and other factors.

To avoid encountering these issues, take small sips of your bhang beverage and wait for the effects to kick in before drinking more. You can read more on what to expect with edibles here.

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How To Manage The Effects Of Bhang

How To Manage The Effects Of Bhang

You want your bhang experience to be as enjoyable as possible. Should you ever travel to India where you can enjoy real bhang during Holi festivities, it is best to follow these tips to manage the effects:

  • Don’t consume bhang on an empty stomach. Eating some light foods before celebrating Holi with bhang is best. Avoid fatty and heavy foods, as these make for a bad bhang hangover.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • If you are feeling under the weather, do not consume bhang.
  • One sip at a time.
  • Coffee or tea can help you regain a clear head.

If you get too high and need some advice, check out our post on greening out.

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How To Make Bhang At Home

Fortunately, you don’t need to make your way to India to enjoy bhang. Here are three easy bhang beverages you can make at home:

Easy Bhang Beverage Recipe

Easy Bhang Beverage Recipe

Full of flavour and easy to make, this bhang beverage will open your taste buds to a new world of cannabis enjoyment.

Ingredients

  • Max. 15g of fresh cannabis bud or trim
  • 500ml water
  • 700ml warm milk
  • 120ml honey or sugar
  • ¼ tsp. garam masala
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground fennel
  • ½ tsp. ground anise
  • ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp. rosewater
  • Garnish of your choice (edible flowers, mint stems, almond flakes, nuts, crushed pistachios…)

Hardware

  • Large pot
  • Cheesecloth
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Whisk

Directions

  1. Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add your cannabis. Allow to steep for 7 minutes.

  2. Using a cheesecloth or fine strainer, strain the plant material from your “tea”. Squeeze until all the liquid has been pressed. Keep both the “tea” water and plant material!

  3. Transfer the squeezed weed to a mortar and pestle. Add 10ml of warm milk. Slowly grind the buds so they soak up the milk. Repeat until you’ve used about 120ml of milk. Set the milk with the plant extract aside.

  4. Add the garnishes into the mortar with a splash of milk. Grind into a fine paste. Remove larger stems and other chunks from the paste.

  5. Take the “tea water” and mix with the milk extract and the paste. Add spices and rosewater. Add remaining warm milk and some honey or sugar to taste.

  6. Mix well. Enjoy! Bhang tastes best when served cool!

If you want to try a different type of bhang, you can perform small adjustments to the recipe above for a different flavour experience. Check out the examples below.

Bhang Lassi

Bhang Lassi

This is the traditional preparation popular during Holi. It is used to help one relax and to stimulate the appetite—it is not really viewed as a drug in this context.

Ingredients

  • 15 grams cannabis trim
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 1 tbsp. coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. chopped almonds
  • ⅛ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 pinch garam masala
  • ½ tsp. grenadine

Hardware

  • 2 saucepans
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Sieve

Directions

  1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the cannabis and let simmer for 7 minutes.

  2. Using the sieve, strain the water into a second saucepan. Keep both the cannabis and the water.

  3. Add cannabis with 2 tablespoons of milk into the mortar and grind. Repeat several times, adding more milk and then almonds to the mixture.

  4. Strain the liquid through your sieve to remove excess plant matter. Proceed to pour the milk, coconut milk, grenadine, and water into one pan.

  5. Bring to a boil while stirring continuously. As you stir, add the remaining ingredients. Keep stirring until everything has dissolved.

  6. Remove mixture from the heat. Allow to cool down a bit. Place in fridge for several hours. Serve cold!

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Bhang Thandai

Bhang Thandai

Bhang thandai is another popular cannabis beverage that enjoys widespread use during Hindu festivities in India.

Ingredients

  • ~1 tbsp. bhang powder (up to 15g cannabis trim)
  • 1 litre milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ~2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp. almonds
  • 1 tbsp. watermelon seeds
  • ~10 peppercorns
  • ½ tbsp. aniseed
  • ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • A few strands of saffron
  • Handful of dried rose petals

Hardware

  • Large bowl
  • Blender/mortar and pestle
  • Saucepan
  • Cheesecloth
  • Whisk

Directions

  1. Add almonds, watermelon seeds, aniseeds, bhang powder, and rose petals to 2 cups of water in a large bowl. Allow to soak for one hour. Pour out water and blend the paste into a smooth consistency.

  2. Bring the milk to a boil and set aside. Add some more water to your paste and strain through a cheesecloth into your (clean) bowl. Add sugar, peppercorns, ground cardamom, and saffron. Mix well. Add the milk, and allow to cool.

  3. Serve chilled with fresh cream for added texture. Garnish with rose petals.

Tips For Enjoying Bhang

Tips For Enjoying Bhang

When drinking bhang, keep in mind that it is quite different from hitting a bowl or smoking a joint. Like other strong edibles, it could leave you high for hours. Don’t let the great taste and your curiosity tempt you into overdoing it and spoiling an otherwise great time. Here are some bhang do’s and don’ts:

  • Know what to expect. It can take some time (up to 90 minutes) to feel something. Are you prepared to be high for an entire day? Don’t partake if you are not.

  • Drink lots of water.

  • Don’t drive or do anything else potentially dangerous under the influence of bhang.

  • Don’t use bhang with alcohol or any other drugs. This will lead, at best, to a terrible high and a hangover.

Georg

Written by: Georg
Based in Spain, Georg spends a lot of his time not only geeking out at his computer but in his garden as well. With a burning passion for growing cannabis and researching psychedelics, Georg is well versed in all things psychoactive.

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