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:
Aam Panna (Raw Green Mango Cooler)
Pineapple Jal Jeera (Pineapple flavored Cumin Water)
Jamun Kala Khatta (Sweet Sour & Spicy Java Plum Cooler)
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