Easy Food Smith

Posts Categorized / Indian beverage

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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PINEAPPLE JAL JEERA / अनानास जल जीरा (SWEET & SOUR CUMIN WATER)

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. 
IT IS ALWAYS ENCOURAGING TO HEAR FROM FRIENDS AND READERS. I CAN ALSO BE REACHED AT: easyfoodsmith@gmail.com
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KAHWA (KASHMIRI SPICED AROMATIC TEA)

Home is where the heart is.  One tries to find solace in things that bring even the smallest reminiscence of home. There are time when I miss my home town so much. Being near the foothills of Shiwalik mountain range and located on the banks of the river Yamuna it gets very cold during winters; the freezing Himalayan winds make the matters worse.

Central heating was unheard of during those days and room heaters were not very popular either. To fight the chill we relied heavily on traditional ways to keep our body warm – thick heavy quilt for the nights and cups of tea and coffee during the day. Traditional concoctions were other ways to beat the winter chill – herbal infusion made with spices called ‘kahda’ is one such brew. My favourite used to a sweet creamy concoction made with dry ginger, which was Mom’s special. She would give a tea spoon of it with a hot glass of milk. The other was a runny and delicious gruel made with gram flour. These two were given to us alternately every day each morning. So potent were the traditional concoctions that we never had flu or caught a cold or ever fell sick.

Now, given a choice I would have a steaming cup of coffee over tea but I don’t mind flavoured teas without milk. However, since my husband is not fond of spiced tea so I do not make Kahwa (also known as Kehwa or Qèhwa) very often; actually I am sort of lazy when I have to cook something for just myself.

Winters are in full swing in north and north eastern states of India; in fact the upper regions of Jammu & Kashmir state are going to experience snowfall anytime soon. Despite it being the winters, we here at Bombay have yet to experience the season. However, this does not deter me from making this lovely spiced Kashmiri tea. Kahwa or Kehwa is the traditional drink from Kashmir, though its origins are a matter of debate as some believe that its origins lay in China while those in India beg to differ J
(This tea is also very popular in Afghanistan & Pakistan)

The tea is made with Kashmiri green tea leaves but any other green tea would do. Traditionally in Kashmir, this tea is made in a samovar which is a brass kettle. To make the tea aromatic, spices such as saffron, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom are infused and the concoction is then served in tiny shallow cups with crushed nuts such as walnuts or almonds (which are grown locally) along with sugar or honey. This tea is supposed to help alleviate headache. It is also believed to be good for stomach. In fact, Ayurveda believes that sipping hot water after meals helps in keeping one slim and washes away the fats from the body.
Here is the list of ingredients required for the tea:
2 teaspoons Green tea
2 cloves
3 cardamoms 
1 stick cinnamon
3 almonds, chopped
1-2 pinches saffron
3 tsp sugar/ honey (or as per taste)
3 cups water 


Pour 3 cups of water in a vessel and bring to a boil. 
Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and sugar. 
Stir on low heat until sugar dissolves.
Simmer the water for 3 minutes, keeping the vessel covered.
Add the green tea leaves and immediately turn off the heat. 
Let the tea sit in the water for a minutes. (for stronger tea you can leave the tea in water for 2-3 minutes)
Divide the almonds and saffron and place in the tea cups.
Pour the tea (I sieved it) over the saffron and almond pieces.
Serve hot.



Makes 2-3 cups



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Linked post to Amy’s Midweek Fiesta

Post linked to Winter Carnival event hosted by Radhika of Ticklingpalates blog

IT IS ALWAYS ENCOURAGING TO HEAR FROM FRIENDS AND READERS. I CAN ALSO BE REACHED AT: easyfoodsmith@gmail.com
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