Easy Food Smith

Posts Categorized / Healthy drink

NEER MOR / CHHAS / छाछ (Spiced Yogurt Drink)


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.


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


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


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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Summer has taken the weather in its firm grip and the focus has clearly shifted to coolers and salads. The summer this time around has been intense and had arrived much earlier than we had anticipated. Thankfully the evenings are pleasant and breezy. I have been trying to spend as less time in the kitchen as possiblecooking easy and mild & light curries, dishing up salads and grilled food. Well, till the time a machine is designed to control weather conditions, let’s keep indulging ourselves and enjoying yummy coolers to alleviate some of that discomforting heat and humidity.
We are looking ahead at nearly two and half months of bearing with this kind of hot & sultry weather before the monsoon arrives in mid-June bringing huge relief.  Until then, I have to ensure that I keep my family satiated with a variety of coolers to help them beat the heat. Apart from that, it is also time to upload something new; beyond the Lemonade and the Aam Pannatime for another cheers to good health J
I absolutely love beverages that are packed with goodness of nature and help the body in ways beyond just quenching the thirst. Jal Jeera is one such thirst quencher that serves the purpose of an appetizer by pepping up appetite left depressed by the heat and also that of being a digestive. 
Jal in Hindi language means water and Jeera is Hindi for Cumin Seeds. Literal translation of Jal Jeera is cumin water but in go plenty of other spices and mint that make Jal Jeera beyond just cumin water. It is tangy, minty, spicy, pungentin fact it has so much going on in there that one needs to experience it at least once. And once, my friends, is enough to get you hooked on to it!
But I am not too comfortable with tangy/ sour foods; Jal Jeera especially is meant to be rather quite tangy. When dealing with sour foods or beverages, I like to either reduce the souring agents in a particular food or add something sweet here and there to cut through the sourness. For the tangy and sour jal jeera, pineapples seemed like the right thing, with their natural fructose. 
Just like for any beverage, feel free to reduce or enhance sourness/ sweetness. In case you want to omit using pineapple juice, swap it with water. You can even use sparkling water instead of water to perk up the Jal Jeera. Only one tip here, do not be tempted to use more mint than mentioned in the recipe, else the jal jeera will turn bitter. (I made that mistake once) 

Here is the ratio of ingredients that I like to use,

1½ tbsp. Cumin Seeds (dry roasted)

¼ tsp Dry Mint Powder
½ tsp Degi Mirch (I think Paprika should work well)
8-10 Black Peppercorns, crushed
1 pinch Asafoetida (Heeng)
½ tsp Amchur (Dried & powdered raw green mangoes- easily available at Indian stores)
½ tsp Black Salt (Kala Namak)
½ tsp regular Salt or Sea Salt
1 tbsp concentrated Tamarind
1-1½ tbsp Mint Leaves
1 tbsp Cilantro leaves (Fresh Coriander)
1 tbsp sugar (adjust in case you intend to not use pineapple juice)
Medium sized Pineapple (I could procure a little more than a cup of juice)
Water/ Sparkling water
Boondi to serve, optional (Tiny round puffed chick pea flour fritter balls. Available at Indian stores)
Wash mint leaves and cilantro leaves and keep aside.
Peel & slice pineapple. Using a juicer, extract juice and strain it twice to procure clear pineapple juice.
Grind the dry spices using a spice grinder and then add the tamarind paste, mint leaves and cilantro leaves. Using 3-4 tbsp of water, make a fine paste. Strain the paste twice so you have a clear concentrated paste. (I used a regular sieve for the first straining and a finely meshed one for the second) Transfer this to a pot or jug.
In a measuring jar, add the pineapple juice and top the rest with water so that you have a total amount of 650 ml (approx) of liquid. Add sugar and stir well to dissolve. Pour this liquid in the concentrated paste and stir well. Jal Jeera is ready; chill it and sprinkle boondi before serving.
Please do not forget to check the notes given below
Note: Turn off the heat after roasting the cumin seeds and while the skillet is still hot, add a pinch of asafoetida and roast it for no  more than 4-5 seconds in the residual heat. This will help reduce the strong pungent taste of asafoetida. 
Note: I used freshly squeezed pineapple juice. In case you intend use store brought one, which might be much sweeter, you may need to omit sugar/ adjust the sourness. 
Note: I recommend not adding ice cubes to the Jal Jeera since it will mellow down the flavors. Instead, chill the Jal Jeera in the refrigerator. And do not forget to stir it well before serving. 

Serves 2-3
Thanks for visiting and see you soon again. 


With temperature and humidity soaring in Bombay I wish I could escape to the hills!! But the chances of that happening are remote since every summer vacation we visit our families stationed at Delhi. Honestly, even going to hills will offer only a temporary respite coz after a few days of fun one has to return to the same heat and then it gets even worse. That reminds of the prickly heat (miliaria) I had on our return from Shimla due to sudden change in temperature. It was really bad and very discomforting.

The temperature begins to rise from mid-March and each passing week brings in sultrier and hotter days. Yet, unlike the Delhi summers, where it gets blistering hot and you would get the feel of being baked in an oven even at 11 in the night, Bombay summers are slightly better. The days may be sweltering hot and very humid but the evenings tend to be pleasant; thanks to the cool sea breeze. However, these days even the evenings are uncomfortably sultry and each time I switch on the air conditioner I bless the fellow who invented it!

Other way to beat the heat is guzzling gallons of water. But aren’t we humans really smart creatures to have discovered some incredible delicious ways to beat the heat – limeade, squash, granitas, sorbets, ice creams and what not! My post is about a typical and conventional way we Indians beat the heat – Aam Panna (pronounced as pun-na) or Raw Mango Cooler, a budget-friendly, healthy and deliciously refreshing drink, which I transformed in to a granita. The idea of granita happened by quite accident. Ok…let me start from the beginning.

If I were to rate a post which was most taxing on my time (apart from the Eggless Coconut Macaroons) it will be hands down this simple raw mango cooler!! Everything about it went wrong from the word ‘go’. Three days back I bought the raw mangoes and planned to make the panna so my post would be ready well in advance but each day something or the other hampered my plans. Yesterday, I finally managed to make it but while I was clicking the pics, I managed to rock the board, tumble the glasses and all the contents spilling around; thankfully the glasses were safe! But there was a lot of mess to clean up. A quick visit to the nearly vegetable grocer and I was at work again.
By the time I finished clicking the pics for the post, it was about time for my daughter to return from school. She looks forward to having lemonade or any sort of cool drink/ cooler when she returns home from school. To quick chill the aam panna, I placed a little amount in a bowl in the freezer. She returned home in a lousy mood and I got busy trying to cheer her up. After about an hour and a half, it suddenly flashed in my mind that I had kept the aam panna in the freezer! It had turned into an icy slush. That was my eureka moment 😉 My daughter was super excited when I told her I was going to make granita with the aam panna. She was satisfied having her lemonade and patiently waited for the granita to be ready. She absolutely loved it.

I made two versions of the Aam Panna – one with cardamom and saffron (I don’t let go any opportunity to use it wherever I possibly can…I just can’t help it!!) which is a moderately sweeter version and the other a more savoury version with roasted cumin and a sprinkle of mint sugar. Feel free to serve the Aam Panna as it is or as a granita; both are equally enjoyable and refreshing J
Mango Purée

3 (260-270 gm) raw mangoes
Update (15th April 2012) : Raw Mangoes here are the green unripe mangoes

Peel the mangoes, wash and chop them.
In a small pot heat a cup of water and add the chopped mangoes
Cook covered for approx. 3-4 minutes or till done (the cooking time will depend on the size of the chopped mango pieces)
Cool and blend the mango to a purée. 
Use as required and store the rest in the refrigerator. It will stay for 2-3 days.
Roasted Cumin flavoured Raw Mango Granita w/ Mint Sugar
(Serves 5-6)

½ litre water
1 tbsp+2 tsp sugar (+/- to taste)
2 tbsp mango puree (+/- to taste)
2 pinch black salt
¼ tsp roasted and crushed cumin
For mint sugar:
1 tsp mint leaves (or more if you want strong flavour)
3 tsp sugar (granulated)

Since the amount of Mint Sugar sprinkle that I needed was small, I used a mortar and pestle to do the job. Working vigorously with your wrist bruise the mint leaves and sugar together till they are well assimilateda job that will take not more than a few seconds. Transfer on an absorbent paper and keep aside.
Heat the water in a pan and add sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and let it boil for a minute.
Sieve the water to remove any impurities from sugar.
Cool and add mango purée. Blend. (If you wish you can sieve this mixture)
Stir in the black salt and cumin.
If you like to have mint as it is, add it finely chopped along with the cumin and salt else reserve it to make the mint sugar.
Pour the contents in a shallow tray. Keep the tray in the freezer and let it sit undisturbed for 2-3 hours or till it is partially set.
Using a spoon, scrape the sides and the top.
Return to the freezer and after an hour, again scrape the mixture. Repeat the process every 45 minutes or an hour, three-four times or till all the content is scraped and the mixture becomes coarse crystal like.
Scoop into the serving bowls or glasses, add a generous sprinkle of mint sugar and serve immediately.
You will love the citrus and earthy flavours of this granita; mint sugar imparts lovely sweet notes of freshness.
Saffron flavoured Raw Mango Granita
(Serves 5-6)

½ litre water
2 tbsp mango puree (+/- to taste)
1/3 cup+1 tbsp sugar (+/- to taste)
A pinch of cardamom powder
A pinch of saffron
The process is similar to the above one:
Heat the water in a pan and add sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and let it boil for a minute.
Sieve the water to remove any impurities from sugar.
Remove half a cup of water and add saffron. Let it seep for 10-15 minutes.
Cool the water and add raw mango purée (not the saffron water) and blend well.
Add cardamom powder and saffron water. Mix well and leave the contents undisturbed for 10 minutes.
Pour the mixture in a shallow tray. Keep the tray in the freezer and let it sit undisturbed for 2-3 hours or till it is partially set.
Using a spoon, scrape the sides and the top.
Return to the freezer and after an hour, again scrape the mixture. Repeat the process every 45 minutes or an hour, three-four times or till all the content is scraped and the panna resembles coarse crystals.
This granita makes a great summer dessert and has very pleasing flavours – the mellow sourness from the raw mangoes paired with the sweetness of the saffron and subtle warm hint of cardamom.

Note: There should be at least two inches space left over the contents in the tray.
Note: You may freeze this mixture over night if you desire. But it requires a lot of effort to scrap it the next day.
Note: If you are freezing it over night, use a fork to scrape the mixture to crystals one hour before serving. Scoop into serving bowls or glasses and serve immediately.
Note: I made two popsicles but before I could click them, my daughter licked them off! Try this idea; the kids love it.

Thanks for visiting and see you soon! 

One year back Green Tomato Chutney

Post linked to Nancy’s April YBR event 

Post linked to Happy Hour Friday blog hop at Shelley’s blog
In the Land of Spice