Being a South Indian, I LOVE Buttermilk! In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that i am obsessed with it. I need to have a glass of chaas (that rhymed well right?) twice a day. Our lunch and dinner is always followed with a glass of chaas. Wondering why I am referring to Buttermilk as chaas? Well, we Indians fondly call it so. In fact in South India, it’s called Mor. Every state in India has its own way of making it. Although the basic recipe is the same – yogurt + water.
Our elders say that drinking buttermilk after every meal helps in digestion of the food. Buttermilk is the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cream. The tartness of buttermilk is due to the acid in the milk. This cool drink is very refreshing is excellent source of potassium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, phosphorus and calcium. Buttermilk is a probiotic food that contains the type of bacteria which instead of being harmful, has great health benefits for humans. Hence this drink is surely in the league of healthy and tasty drinks. Something even like Turmeric Latte, qualifies in this category.
For some reason, it’s always the dads in the house who can make the best buttermilk. My dad and my father in law are two such examples. They can effortlessly whip up a buttermilk in seconds and it tastes just perfect. There are two versions of this drink which we make. One is called the Hurried version, where you just blend yogurt, water, salt and asafoetida together and then drink it up. This one is made when you are in a rush. On most days, this is how I too make my buttermilk. Occasionally I garnish it with cilantro. Specially in summer, this drink is like god sent. It’s cool, refreshing and very good for the system. So if you ever land up eating lot of rich/heavy food, do not worry. Just have a glass of chilled buttermilk and it will help digest the food.
The 2nd version is called the Smoked Masala Chaas/Buttermilk. I learnt this technique when I went on a road trip with my friends to Northern India. Uttarakhand was a very scenic drive. The view was simply breathtaking. On one side there were mountains and the other side had rivers gushing by. On the way we did multiple pit stops to try out the local cuisine and we were left amazed every-time. Each small restaurant we visited outdid the other and we got to taste a new dish. The varieties of snacks we had were unbelievable. They were prepared so effortlessly by the skillful local chefs that it was truly inspiring.
In one such food stall, there was this old lady who was selling Masala Chaas. Since it was the ideal drink for summer, our driver suggested that we stop here and taste the chaas sold here. He had praised it so much that we were eagerly looking forward to it. Looking at her, I gauged she must be 80 plus easily. With all the wrinkles on her face screaming wisdom, worn out eyes disclosing her experience and the warmest smile made us feel instantly comfortable and inviting. She had many wooden pots around her. There were some tourists like us and she was serving each one with a smile. I noticed that those wooden pots had buttermilk in it and every time she would open it, smoke would escape. This intrigued me. So I started conversing with her. Apart from telling me all about herself, her family and how some unfriendly tourists behave, she managed to tell me how she made this chaas.
Her family has been making and selling chaas for generations. There has been no change in the recipe either. It surely was an interesting way of making buttermilk. I had never heard of this recipe until then. I never got a chance to try it out once I got back home. However last Sunday when I was thinking of what to cook, I got this Facebook memory of our North Trip. It not just brought back wonderful memories of the trip but I was also reminded on this lady and her chaas. So I decided to give her recipe a try. Blend yogurt, mint leaves, cilantro, ginger and salt together. Add little water. It should be drinking consistency.
Pour the buttermilk in a wide bowl. Now comes the main part and you need to be very quick. In a small bowl keep curry leaves, green chillies and cumin seeds ready. Keep oil handy as well. Now heat charcoal carefully and place it in a small bowl. Quickly place it in the bowl containing buttermilk. Add the other ingredients set aside along with the oil and quickly wrap the whole bowl with a foil. The smoke from the coal will seep into the chaas to give it its smoke flavor. Let it be covered for 5 minutes.
Remove the foil. Throw away the coal and the stuff inside it. Pour buttermilk in serving glasses, garnish with mint leaves and serve as is or chilled.
Let me tell you that chaas never tasted any better than this! It truly was amazing, refreshing and delicious.
Smoked Masala Chaas/Buttermilk
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1/2 cup mint leaves
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/4 cup water - add more if needed
- Salt as required
- 1 inch ginger - grated
- 2 coal cubes
- 5-6 curry leaves
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 3-4 green chillies
- 1 tsp oil
- Mint leaves for garnish
- Blend yogurt, mint leaves, cilantro, ginger and salt together. Add little water. It should be drinking consistency.
- Pour the buttermilk in a wide bowl. Now comes the main part and you need to be very quick. In a small bowl keep curry leaves, green chillies and cumin seeds
- ready. Keep oil handy as well. Now heat coal
- carefully and place it in a small bowl. Quickly place it in the bowl containing buttermilk. Add the other ingredients set aside along with the oil and quickly wrap the whole bowl with a foil
- . The smoke from the coal will seep into the chaas to give it its smoke flavor. Let it be covered for 5 minutes.
- Remove the foil. Throw away the coal and the stuff inside it. Pour buttermilk in serving glasses, garnish with mint leaves and serve as is or chilled.
BTW, did I tell you that, on that day of our road trip, me and my friends had 8 glasses of buttermilk from that lady. We were so full that we didn’t even have dinner that day! Smoked Masala Chaas/Buttermilk has become my new favorite all over again now. It’s like finding a long-lost friend. I am so glad that I attempted this recipe. God bless that old lady from the mountains of Uttarakhand!
If you do try this recipe, please do share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. This will keep me motivated to develop more interesting recipes. Click a pic and post it with the hashtag #cookiliciousveg . I would love to see your pictures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!