Milk: General Principles

Milky grains

Milky Grains

  • Milk is sattvic and strength-giving.
  • Milk is easily digested and is quickly converted to Ojas.
  • If suitably prepared and taken, it is balancing for Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
  • Boiled milk can be taken day or night.
    • When taken before bed, it promotes restful sleep.
    • It helps to restore Ojas after sexual activity.
    • It is the optimum food for those who are awakened from sleep with hunger.
  • Fresh organic milk (preferrably non-homogenized) from grass-fed cows should be taken only after boiling, either by itself or with other sweet-tasting foods like wheat, rice, oats, raisins, figs, or dates.
    • A slice of fresh ginger, or a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom or turmeric boiled with the milk makes it more digestible.
    • Adding 1/4 cup water to 3/4 cup milk also makes it more digestible.
    • Do not drink cold milk.
    • Boiling means a foaming boil. Immediately remove from the heat and allow it to cool to a comfortable temperature before drinking.
    • Skim or lowfat milk would be preferable for Kapha; Vata and Pitta are best nourished with whole milk, but 2% would be fine.
    • Be cautious of ultra-pasteurized milk. It tends to have a lousy taste and may have sat on the grocery store shelf a long time. Even so, for some it may be the best available choice.
    • WARNING: raw milk can cause serious disease if not boiled before consumption.
  • Milk should not be mixed with banana, chocolate, coffee, eggs, fish, radish, salt, or sour foods unless you want to create Ama.
  • Yogurt or sour cream can, however, be used in cooking lunch.
  • If these guidelines are not followed, milk is likely to cause problems.

Date-Almond Milk Shake

For those who have trouble maintaining weight or otherwise want to balance Vata and/or Pitta, boil a cup of milk with a few blanched, soaked almonds, 1-3 Medjool dates and a pinch of cardamom. Then blend well and drink at a comfortable temperature according to the season.

Saffron Milk

To better balance Pitta, try boiling your milk with a little ghee (maybe 1/4 tsp.) , a pinch of saffron and little whole cane sugar.

Overcoming Milk Sensitivity

Many problems with milk result from not boiling it first. I thought I had lactose intolerance until my first encounter with a Vaidya. This procedure would be safe as long as you have not had difficulty breathing or swelling of the mouth or throat in relation to milk. If you have been avoiding all milk products including yogurt and cheese, you might do well to start by taking a small glass of dilute lassi with lunch for about a week to build up your intestinal reservoir of lactobacilli. Use 1 oz. fresh yogurt with 4-6 oz. warm water. See for details.

  • Bring 1 oz. of milk, 3 oz. water and a pinch of cardamom to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and sip at a comfortable temperature.
  • If this is well tolerated, the next day try 2 oz. of milk and 2 oz. water.
  • If this is also tolerated, the next day try 3 oz. milk and 1 oz. water.
  • If even this is tolerated, you should be fine with milk in gradually increasing amounts as long as you follow the above principles.

Milky Grains

Milky grains make for a heart-warming breakfast or a light nourishing supper. They are generally quick and easy to prepare. For example, bulgur wheat cooks in 5 minutes. White basmati rice takes 15-20. Even if you prefer whole grains like wheat berries or oat groats which take about an hour, you could pre-cook the grain in water and then boil with the milk when you're ready to eat, or use a pressure cooker.

Remember that cooked cereals thicken on standing. I generally given them 5 minutes or so. Adjust the water to achieve the consistency you desire.

Dr. Marc's Oatmeal

Everyone loves this oatmeal recipe. You can sweeten to taste with sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup or honey. Turbinado sugar can be added for the last few minutes of cooking. Honey should be added only after the oatmeal has been transferred to a bowl and cools enough that you can comfortably put your finger in it.

Beware that some foods like raisins, figs and sucanat have been known to curdle milk when boiled together. Curdled milk is the basis for cheese, which is not what we want here. Avoid the problem by adding them right at the end of cooking. I've never had this happen with dates—which add plenty of sweetness when cooked with the milk and grain.

Bring to a boil:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. ghee
  • Thin slice chopped ginger
  • Optional: raisins, chopped dates or figs, blanched almonds, raw walnuts, chopped unsalted pistachios

Cover and cook on low heat about 20 minutes. Check and stir periodically to prevent scorching especially towards the end of the cooking time.

Add cinnamon or cardamom for the last few minutes.

Let stand about 5 minutes before eating.


This Indian classic pudding is made with white basmati rice, ghee, saffron, whole cane sugar and rose water. Use 1/4-1/3 rice cup per serving for the same amount of milk and water used in the oatmeal recipe. Mix in rose water and sugar after removing from heat.