Easy Food Smith

Posts Categorized / Dahi

NEER MOR / CHHAS / छाछ (Spiced Yogurt Drink)

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This post comes to you from Dubai! We have relocated from India to Dubai and after a few hiccups, we have finally settled in and now enjoying the summer break. It has been quite a while, since I experienced temperatures exceeding 46 degrees C. While July and August in Mumbai are absolutely heavenly with monsoon in its full glory, I have been told, here these two months are the hottest with temperatures touching and going beyond 50 degrees C and high humidity adding to discomfort to the heat. Keeping one self hydrated is one of the key things to do in this brutal heat and this chhas is one of the many delicious ways to do that. Besides, it was time to upload a post for Hopscotch.

In a previous post of mine, I had pretty much in detail shared with you, all about how robust the Punjabi cuisine is and how milk and milk products hold a special place in this vibrant cuisine. Our home was no different when it came to use of milk and milk products. Homemade yogurt was made in copious amounts during summers as was home churned cultured butter. Any excess butter or the one which was about to turn rancid was turned into ghee. However, I was the black sheep of the family. While others would love to indulge themselves with a glass full of sweet lassi, that was at times flavoured with rose syrup aka most north Indian’s all-time favorite ‘Rooh Afza’ (that I still loathe), I used to (and still do) go for the savoury one spiced with ginger and mint with a generous sprinkle of roasted cumin powder and chaat masala thrown in. At my mother’s house Chhaachh or Mat’tha was something we had almost everyday may it be winters or summers. It used to be an integral part of our meal. So the chhaas made with buttermilk was always savory, with spices in it, while the sweet ones were made using yogurt.

In my marital home, we prefer savoury lassi over sweet ones (which is a huge relief). Making mat’tha is really simple. Usually mat’tha is made using buttermilk which is diluted with water and as I mentioned above, is savory. But it can be easily swapped/ substituted with yogurt or dahi. One just needs to have an idea about what all one would like to add to one’s glass of yogurty goodness. I do not mind the ones with fruits such as the mango lassi, peach lassi, so on and so forth. Yet my heart always settles for the savoury one each time someone says lassi. There used to be this wonderful south Indian restaurant on the corner street of Barakhamba Road in Delhi and I used to love their their tempered Chhas or what they used to call as Neer Mor. Hence, I have taken the liberty to tweak the Punjabi chhas by adding a tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves. You can omit it if you wish to but I love the flavors of curry leaves. Besides, they are great for a tummy struggling with the oppressive summer heat. Also, I have not added chopped ginger as I don’t like its shreds and bits in my mouth. Instead, I have extracted its juice and added it to the chhaas. Just play with the ingredients and see what works best for your taste buds. This is how we like ours.

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1C Plain/ Unflavoured Yogurt  (Dahi)

2½ C Water

½ tsp Ginger Juice (from nearly half an inch piece)

1/3 C Mint leaves (adjust to taste)

1 Green Chili, finely chopped

1 tsp Oil

½ tsp Mustard Seeds

8 – 10 Curry Leaves

1 tbsp chopped fresh Coriander (optional)

Salt to taste

1½ tsp Chaat Masala

2 tsp Roasted Cumin Powder

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In a pot, whisk the yogurt to have a smooth consistency. Add water and whisk again. Chop the mint and slightly bruise it in a mortar and pestle. Add ginger juice, mint leaves, and green chilli to the yogurt mix and keep the pot in the fridge for one and a half to two hours to allow all the flavors to mix together. At this stage, feel free to strain the chhaas to get rid of mint bits and chilies.

Take a small pan and add oil to it. When it is hot, add mustard seeds. Once they begin to crackle, switch off the heat and add curry leaves. (I always cover the pan when I am doing this job since mustard seeds splutter around and so do the curry leaves)

Add the tempering to the mat’tha along with salt, chaat masala and roasted cumin and serve chilled.

Note: The amount of water will depend on the thickness of yogurt. I had used home made yogurt which was thick and creamy.

Note: The amount of spices & herbs is also a matter of personal taste. Feel free to increase or reduce their amount.

Note: To serve, you may sieve the mat’tha or serve it just as it is.

Note: If you chosen not to sieve the contents, don’t forget to stir them before serving.

Note: If you feel that the yogurt is sour, add a few table spoons of milk instead of sugar to cut through the sourness.

Serves – 3

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Here are some more natural beverages / coolers that are great for summers:

Pom Limeade

Aam Panna (Raw Green Mango Cooler)

Lemonade Concentrate 

Masala Spiced Roasted Beetroot Lassi

Pineapple Jal Jeera (Pineapple flavored Cumin Water)

Jamun Kala Khatta (Sweet Sour & Spicy Java Plum Cooler)

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again

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Note: I have been reimbursed in no way by Hopscotch for this post.

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DAHI BHALLE/ DAHI VADA – दही भल्ले/ दही वड़ा (Lentil Fritters in Yogurt)

HAPPY HOLI TO ALL VISITORS!!!!

“Little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and I, for one, happen to know it better than many. To begin with, I am totally ignorant when it comes to things related to computersin fact I am not at all tech savvy. It took me a long time to get around my blog and I would struggle for even simple thingsI still do actually.

I was trying to delete extra pics from my android phone and I am still not able to figure out how I managed to erase all the pics from my blog!! I happily pushed the OK button when the prompt cautioned me, “This action will remove pictures forever. Do you wish to proceed?” Least did I know that I was deleting every single pic from my blog. By the time I realised what I had donethings were beyond redemption.

I knew I had no time to sit and regret. I swung into action and uploaded as many pics I could from my laptop and camera. Several pics were lost when my computer had crashed last year. But most that I had lost were the ones from the very initially posts from the blog’s first year of existence; the time when the quality of my food pics was pretty awful since I never paid any heed to composition or styling 😛

This whole exercise left me exhaustedmentally and physically. My joints and muscles were screaming for a break and I had no choice but to heed to their demand. I lost on time to plan for my next post and then it hit across that it would be better to repost a post from my very first year of blogging. It is one of those posts where I had uploaded no clicks. It also happens to be a post that sounded perfect for Holi.

Dahi bhalle, as they are called in the north Indian, are a very popular street food and I haven’t met anyone so far who does not enjoy eating them. They can be eaten as such or along with papdi, which is flat savoury crisps made from plain flour. In fact, Dahi Bhalle are called Dahi Vada in the south of India and perhaps they are one of those savory dishes that is common to the south and north Indian cuisine.

Personally I would add them to the category of comfort food. You can eat them chilled to beat the Indian heat or have them at the room temperature.

My mother used to add baking soda to the batter to ensure soft vadas or bhalle (dumplings). But, instead of baking soda, I prefer using fruit salt. Another modification that I made is to add the fruit salt to the water in which I soak the pulses (urad and moong without their skin) along with some table salt. This ensures that the dal absorbs the water with salt and fruit salt in it and results in even softer vadas.

Here is the recipe:

For the Batter:

1 cup black split pulses without the skin (Ivory Lentils)

¼ cup green split pulses without the skin- (optional)

½ tsp roasted cumin seeds

½ tsp salt (to be added while soaking the pulses)

½ tsp salt (to be added to the batter)

1 pinch red chili powder (optional)

¼ tsp finely chopped ginger (optional)

1 tbsp toasted and roughly chopped cashew nuts (optional)

1 tsp fruit salt (Eno)

Oil for deep frying

For Yogurt/ Dahi (click for recipe of yogurt):

½ kg yoghurt

1 tsp cumin seed powder

¼ tsp black pepper powder

¼ tsp red chilli powder (optional)

1 tsp dry mint leaves, crushed

1 tsp fresh chopped mint leaves (optional)

1 ½ tsp chat masala

½ tsp of toasted and powdered flax seeds (optional)

Salt to taste

To garnish: (these are optional)

Juliennes of ginger

Pomegranate seeds

Finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

For Making the Vada

Add 1 tsp of fruit salt and salt to the pulses and add enough water. Soak overnight.

In the morning, grind the pulses, gradually adding little water to make a sort of thick paste. Add half a tea spoon of fruit salt, roasted cumin seeds, finely chopped ginger, and cashew nut and keep it aside for half an hour.

Fill a broad container with water to nearly 4-5 inches high since the dumplings will be soaked in this water.Heat oil in a wok and add refined oil to it. When the oil is hot but not smoking, lower the flame and after 45 seconds, start adding spoonful of the ground batter. Increase the temperature to medium low.

Fry the dumplings till they are golden in colour and done. Immediately turn them out into the container with water. Soak till they are soft, which generally takes 1-2 minutes. Then take them out of water (give a gentle squeeze to the dumplings since we don’t want to remove all the water. This will ensure that the dumplings are soft when they are added to the yoghurt)

Finish the whole batter in batches.

For preparing the Curd

Take the yoghurt and whisk it with a beater or fork. The curd should not be very thick in its consistency because after an hour or so, the dumplings will absorb the moisture from the curd and leave it thick.

Add all the dry ingredients and then add the vada or the dumplings to it.

Keep it at room temperature for about 20 minutes and then put them in the refrigerator if you desire.

Serve with Sweet Tamarind Chutney and Green Chutney. Garnish with ginger juliennes, pomegranate seeds and fresh coriander.

Note: In the pic below, I have just drizzled yogurt over the bhalle/vada so that these are visible to the viewer. They are meant to be soaked in the yogurt before being served.

Yield: Approx. 30 (of the size shown in the pics)Thanks for visiting and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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DAHI (Home Made YOGURT / घर का बना दही)

Yogurt has been an integral part of the Indian cuisine and culture. Most Indian households prefer making dahi at home than buying the store ones. No one knows how long yogurt has been the part of an ordinary Indian’s life. Ancient Indians believed that a mix of yogurt or dahi along with honey was food fit for Gods. Even today, Hindu temples offer ‘charanamrit’, a mix of honey, milk (or water from the holy Ganges river), dahi, a little ghee and basil leaves to the devotees who visit the temple as ‘a sacred offering’. The literal translation of the word is holy nectar from the feet of the holy deity. I never ever liked its taste though and I would just touch my lips to it and give it away to my mother.
However, I used to love plain yogurt; actually sweet curd is something I could never develop a taste for. After my daughter insisted that I try the flavoured ones with fruits, I have sort of developed a taste for the sweet one yet given a choice I still prefer a savory raita or a savory lassi. As a child I virtually lived on yogurt. Mum once told me how I often demanded it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! However when Mum told me that yogurt was bacterial fermentation of milk, I looked upon the yogurt with suspicion and stopped eating it for a while!
Yogurt is an extremely healthy food. Rich in protein, calcium, vitamin B6 & B12, riboflavin (info derived from Wikipedia), yogurt is a valuable food for infants and elderly people too. It is a good source of protein, carb, mineral and fat. It is good for the stomach too and helps develop the good bacteria in the gut and aids in digestion. Apparently lactose intolerant individuals can tolerate yogurt better than milk. My granddad was lactose intolerant but he used to enjoy the yogurt without any discomfort. Ayurveda considers dahi to be a cooling food; hence people consume large quantities here during the hot sultry Indian summers. Not only is it consumed, but it is also applied to the face as it provides relief from suntan and sun burns too.  

There are over dozen ways in which you can use yogurt. Here are a few simple suggestions where you can use yogurt – smoothies, parfaits, popsicles, frozen yogurt, Dips, Salad Dressings, marinating lamb or chicken, making curries, baking, desserts, labne, lassi, raita, cold soups. I use them even in the Coconut Chutney and this Pesto Dressing. My sour batch of yogurt was used to make this Masala Spiced Beet Lassi
Making yogurt at home is a simple process; no special equipment (perhaps beside a thermometer) or vessels are required. However, don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get a smooth thick yogurt in your first attempt. The milk needs to be heated up to approx. 80-82 degrees C to kill any undesirable bacteria and then cooled to approx. 39-43 degrees C. Plain yogurt with active bacterial culture is added to the milk, temperature is maintained and it is set aside for 4-7 hours or over-night to ferment and set. A lot depends on the humidity and temperature of the place. During cool days I wrap the container in a kitchen towel or a regular towel. If the curds are still not set, I place the container (if using metal one) in warm bath till the curds are set. You may also heat the oven up to 50-60 degree, switch it off and keep the towel wrapped container in the oven overnight or till the milk is set.
Here is the process with specified amount of ingredients to be used…
½ litre milk (pre-boiled)
2 tbsp commercial yogurt with active culture (I use Nestle or Amul or Mother Dairy depending on availability)

Heat the milk in a sauce pan and bring the milk to 80 degree C temperature.
Remove the pan and bring down the temperature to approx 40-42 degrees temperature. For those not having thermometer, the milk should feel warm on touch.
Transfer the milk in the container in which you intend to ferment/ set it.
Remove a little milk (3-4 tbsp approx) from the pan and mix in the yogurt. Beat till there are no lumps visible.
Gently pour and mix this mixture into the rest of the milk and cover the container with a lid. Wrap the container in a towel and let the milk ferment undisturbed for at least 4 hours.
Once the curds are set, refrigerate it immediately. It is best to let it cool for at least 2-3 hours before you consumer it. Refrigeration further thickens the curd and sets it even better. ­­
Note:I usually boil the milk and refrigerate it. To make the yogurt, I remove it from the refrigerator and slowly bring it to the temperature of 80 degrees C.
Note: The amount to ferment the milk will vary from place to place. It takes no more than 3-4 hours here in the warm and humid weather of Mumbai (India). In peak summers it takes just 2 hours!
Note: You may use low fat or full fat milk for making yogurt.
Note: The longer the fermentation time, the sour the yogurt would be
Note: If you like the yogurt sweet, feel free to add some sugar in the milk before leaving it to ferment.
Note: To turn this yogurt into a Greek Yogurt, line a large sieve with a muslin cloth and pour the yogurt onto it. Bring the ends of the cloth together and tie into a knot. Let the wsater drain from the curd in a refrigerator for at least 7-8 hours or overnight. Do not forget to put a container underneath the sieve.  

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I am so happy to announce the first giveaway at EFS. The book that I selected for the giveaway is an extension of my belief that home-made food is tastier, healthier, cheaper and oh so gratifying!
The book – “The Homemade Pantry-101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making” is all about food that you can make right in your kitchen – from crackers to cheese, pesto to sauerkraut, and mayonnaise to toaster pastries, breads and candies. The author has thrown in humour and her personal anecdotes which gives a friendly appeal to the reader.
 
 
The giveaway is open worldwide. All you have to do is leave a comment saying that you wish to enter for the giveaway. So hurry leave a comment and ensure that you do that before 7 p.m. Indian Standard Time, 17th August 2013. 
The winner will be announced on the 17th of August 2013. 
 
Thanks for visiting and see you soon again! 
IT IS ALWAYS ENCOURAGING TO HEAR FROM FRIENDS AND READERS. I CAN ALSO BE REACHED AT: easyfoodsmith@gmail.com
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