Easy Food Smith

Posts Tagged / Drinks

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


Product Review – PAPER BOAT Ready to Drink Chilled Tea



Had it not been for spring cleaning, this post would have not seen the light of the day. The package containing the ready to drink tea with delivered to me way back in December which I thought was not the right time to post a chilled beverage. The package was stashed away for the ‘right time’ to come and then it became the classic case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. I was aghast at myself for having forgotten about this product review that I was supposed to do.

Paper Boat is the brand name of the Delhi-NCR based Hector Beverages that is named after the Trojan prince who took on the Greek warrior Achilles. The company that was founded in 2009 has since then made its presence felt loud and clear in the desi market. I remember relishing their Jal Jeera (Cumin & Tamarind Cooler) on an Indigo flight. I was pretty impressed by who ever thought of selling the desi coolers in that smart handy packing. Their different range of beverages from the chilled Rasam (which I didn’t like btw) to Jamun Kala Khatta and Kokum drink and Golguppa ka Paani are all brilliant ways of introducing the current generation to the fantastic and nutritious Indian thirst quenchers made with natural ingredients  (way better than the colas and artificial energy drinks). Once the company had made a niche for itself on the shelves of the super markets, I learnt that it was a company run by a bunch of Indian blokes. Their Aam Panna (Raw Green Mango Cooler) and Aam Ras are an absolute favourite of ours. Their taste is spot on for us.


Coming back to their Ginger Lemon Tea and Tulsi Tea (Basil Tea), we are not much of tea drinkers or coffee fans for that matter. My husband and I especially do not like the creamy/ milky Indian masala chai but we don’t mind a glass of iced lemon tea or fruity green tea once in a while. So when I was offered by Hector Company to write a product review for their ready to drink teas, I was a game for it. And here are my thoughts about their latest product.


Both the flavors worked fine for me since I like mildly brewed tea. But the hard core tea drinkers, may find if pretty bland. I found that the Tulsi Tea lacks some punch; some more brewing perhaps. It was somewhat bland for our taste. The Ginger Lemon Flavour was better and even here, there was a room for improvement. The ginger flavour could have been more pronounced. What I love in both the teas was that the amount of sugar suits our taste. It is lesser than many other ready to drink chilled teas. If I were to choose and pick one of these two, it is certainly Ginger Lemon Tea for me. Try these flavors and take your call. It will be interesting, however, to see how the Indian diaspora accepts these chilled ready to drink teas since they are habituated to piping hot masala chai.


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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