Easy Food Smith

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

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JAMUN KALA KHATTA (Sweet, Sour & Spicy Java Plum Drink)

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Our neighbours used to have this huge Jamun tree in my home town and its variety was absolutely fabulous. The sweet & tangy juicy fruit had a tiny stone inside, surrounded by plump flesh. Their daughter and I used to be friends and her Mum used to send a bowl full of these plump purplish plums. I used to beg to my Mum to have a Jamun tree at our house as well but she would out rightly refuse. “The tree makes a lot of mess. It sheds so much leaves and when the ripe fruits will fall off from the tree, they will stain the courtyard,” she would reason. No amount of reasoning, cajoling or pleading worked with Mum. And thus we never had a jamun tree. During the season, it is common to see vendors sitting in the lanes of Lutyen’s Delhi selling this fruit, which is actually in abundance and not as expensive as it is here.

The Jamun or the Java Plum, or the Black Plum as it is called by some, is a sweet sour fruit that has an astringent after taste. I used to enjoy it as a kid but now I don’t as much. But it is my better half’s favourite seasonal fruit. (Read about the benefits of this fruit here.) A few months back I saw the pharmacist near my house, selling Jamun juice along with many other varieties of interesting juices, such as the aloe vera juice, basil juice, neem leaves juice, etc. On an impulse, I purchased the jamun juice for my husband but we discovered it was pretty awful in taste. Since then I have been waiting for this fruit to makes its way in to the market so I could make fresh batch at home. I have spiked the sharbat with some green chillies and I love the way it tastes; fabulous with just that hint of chili. Enjoy!

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½ kg Jamun / Jambal

½ Cups Caster Sugar

1¼ Cup Orange Juice (optional)

As per taste – Kala Namak (Black Salt / Rock Salt)

As per taste – Cumin Powder (roasted and ground)

6 – 7 or as per taste and heat – Whole Green Chilies

3 tbsp Lime Juice (+ / -)

Plenty of Ice Cubes

Water

Slightly crushed green chilies, deseeded (I used a mortar and pestle) – Optional

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Wash the jamuns well and drain any excess water. Transfer the jamuns in a non-reactive pot or a glass mixing bowl and sprinkle caster sugar. Now with clean dry hands, roughly squish the jamuns and allow them to macerate for about 3 – 4 hours.

Mash the jamun sugar mix with clean hends and remove all stones. Puree this mixture (I was able to procure approximately 300 mls or somewhat thick puree).

For making the sharbat, I added orange juice to the puree (to cut through the astringent taste of the jamuns) and rest I added water to take the total amount of liquids to approximately 1100 mls. Then I passed this mix, first, through a regular sieve and then a fine sieve.

Add lime juice, black rock salt, cumin powder and green chilies. Adjust flavors and (add sugar only if required) Pour in the pitcher and allow the drink to sit for an hour or so for the chili flavors to assimilate into the drink.

Stir the sharbat well before serving. Add sliced oranges and lemons in the serving glasses along with half sliced chili and add ice. Top with the jamun sharbat and serve.

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Note: Although it is totally a matter of preference and taste but I recommend that you be generous with the amount of lime juice and black rock salt since they are the key ingredients/ soul of this drink.

Note: Feel free to swap the orange juice with regular water.

Note: Using orange juice helped reduce the amount of sugar since I didn’t need to add any extra apart from the half a cup I had used to macerate the fruit.

Note: If you are not using orange juice, you may need to add extra sugar to the drink.

Note: Instead of using water, you can use sparkling water or drinking soda.

Note: I lined the rims of the glass with a mix of caster sugar and black rock salt.

Yield: Makes a little more than a litre

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Try these natural coolers,

Pineapple Jal Jeera (Fruity Tamarind & Cumin Water)

Aam Panna (Raw Green Mango Cooler)

Lemonade Concentrate

Pom Limeade (Pomegranate & Lime Juice Cooler)

Thanks for your visit and see you soon again

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MASALA DOODH / मसाला दूध (Milk w/ Nutty Spice Mix)

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As the winters arrive, one sees a deluge of hot chocolate mix and cocoa mix recipes. I would be dishonest if I say I wasn’t tempted to join the craze and share my version of hot chocolate mix. But then I turned to sharing a traditional gem – an Indian spice mix that is aromatic and loaded with health benefits (I can’t believe I missed sharing this earlier). It is easy to make and really handy when you are in a mood for a glass of hot milk to wind up for the day. Along with imparting flavour to the milk, the various spices in the mix provide many benefits to help keep the winter ailments at bay; you could call it preventive and therapeutic. Making this mix is almost effortless and makes for a wonderful exotic edible homemade gift.

Milk and I share a love-hate relationship. It was made an obligatory part of my diet, namely the breakfast, when I was a kid. “Love it or hate, you have to drink it” was the deal that I was given. I still have not developed a taste for milk yet I can’t imagine a day without it. It is as if I miss something important in my diet and I don’t feel satiated until I have had it for my breakfast. However, that said, I love milk products such as Yogurt, Kheer (Indian rice pudding), Lassi, Buttermilk and of course ice creams!! The picky eater that I was once, I never said no to yogurt. I would have it for all three meals. Same was the case with buttermilk. I preferred the last serving of buttermilk coz that was full of rich creaminess. But, I still need something in my glass of milk to make it taste good.

The only time I used to love having milk was when we used to visit the Ashram. Service to all was one of the five key and essential tenets of our Gurudev and therefore during the three-day congregation, that is still held once every year, langar (free community kitchen that serves rich and poor followers/visitors alike) is an integral part of the sewa (service to others). These days however, in an effort to prevent people from wasting food, a token amount of rupee 1 is charged for tea and rupee 5 for a glass full of pure creamy milk flavoured with spices. The milk, procured from the village dairies around ashram, is rich and pure and tastes nothing like any other I have ever tasted. It is simmered along with spices and served piping hot in mornings and evenings. Seeing me polish a whole glass of that flavoured milk, my mother started making it at home as well especially during winters. The reason why I used to love that milk was obviously the spices that masked the natural taste of milk and made it super delicious.

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½ C Almonds

1/3 C Pistachios

¼ C Cashews

3 – 4 tbsp Sugar (adjust sweetness)

¾ – 1 tsp powdered Cardamom seeds

¼ tsp Saffron strands (crushed)

1 tsp Dry Ginger Powder

1 tsp Black Pepper Corns (I like that little pepper hit in the milk but feel free to reduce it to ½ tsp)

¾ tsp Turmeric Powder

Lightly toast the nuts on medium low heat in a pan, shuffling them around so that they do not brown or burn. Switch off the heat and place the nuts on a plate and allow them to cool. In a spice grinder or a mixer-grinder, pulse the contents for 5 seconds and then give a break. Then pulse again for a few seconds and then again stop. (This will prevent the nuts from releasing too much oil) Repeat this process till the contents are almost powdered. Transfer the powdered mix in a clean dry bottle or jar and store refrigerated.

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Serving Suggestion: 1 – 2 tsp for a glass of hot milk. (adjust to taste)

Note: Those allergic to nuts can swap nuts with seeds – sunflower seeds, sesame, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, etc (using ration of your preference). Although I have never tried making this mix using seeds, it might lack the richness provided by the nuts.

Note: Black pepper in milk may sound outlandish but I vehemently recommend using it. Ditto for turmeric.

Note: I usually simmer the spice mix with the milk (stirring it so it does not stick to the bottom) to steep the flavors. You can add the mix to the hot milk and allow it to sit for a minute or two to let the flavors steep.

Note: Feel free to adjust the ratio of ingredients in the mix to your preference.

Note: This works well with any non-dairy milk such as almond milk, coconut milk or soy milk.

Note: You need to ensure that you keep this mix at a cool dry place. I would recommend refrigeratation it and it will keep well for approximately a month or so. I prefer making small batches that are consumed well within a month.

Note: Always use a dry spoon each time you scoop out the mix else the contents will spoil due to moisture.

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Check out these posts for some more Home-made Edible Gift Ideas…

Garam Masala (Aromatic Indian Spice Blend)

Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Spice Mix)

Desi Ghee (Clarified Butter)

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