Spiced Buttermilk|Mattha|Taak|Chaas

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Years ago when Pune was just a little sleepy town and popularly known as a ‘Pensioner’s Paradise’, there were very few shops which sold fresh pasteurized milk and dairy products. Since we lived in the Cantonment area, we had to either go to Shivaji Market area or to the Pune Railway Station area which was quite a distance to get good quality milk and dairy products. As usual, the local milkman would come on his bicycle with milk cans to deliver the regular supply of milk in the mornings and would make another round later in the day to supply curds. It was quite an exciting sight because you would find two mud pots (matkas) containing curds hanging on either side of the bicycle handles, secured with coir ropes. I never enjoyed curds like the way I do now as the curds sold then would be very sour especially in summer; as he rode his bicycle in the hot sun and due to the heat the curds would turn very sour.

Today, Pune is a well developed city and there is access to many commodities which were not available then. Very rarely do I make curds at home but purchase all milk products which are easily available and are dairy fresh. The source of rich and creamy buttermilk is ‘Buffalo Milk’. If you prefer the lighter version then you need to use ‘Cow’s Milk’.

Buttermilk is known as ‘Taak’ in Marathi. Taak is the whey (buttermilk) that remains after hand churning out fresh butter ( ‘loni’). The spicy version of buttermilk is called  ‘Mattha’ which is typically Maharashtrian. Mattha is served in Maharashtrian homes as part of everyday traditional meals. It is enjoyed throughout the year but especially during summer. It is always served as a part of a traditional wedding thali meal along with the most popular wedding sweet “Jalebi” which is pronounced as “Jilbi”. Buttermilk is usually served in small ‘vaatis’ (katori/steel bowls or small steel glasses. In Pune, there are many restaurants serving unlimited/limited Maharashtrian thali meals and they serve taak/mattha. Did I tell you that we get awesome thali meals in Pune? Irrespective of which thali you choose… Mahrashtrian, Rajasthani, Gujarati, etc. spiced buttermilk is a part of it as it helps digest heavy and spicy food.

Mattha is known as ‘Chaas’ in Hindi. You can have spiced buttermilk in various flavors depending on your favorite spice and condiment combination. It tastes good even with a sprinkling of salt and sugar. Now, it is commercially available in plastic packets and tetra packs but nothing can replace the freshness of home.

Buttermilk is very light, soothing, cooling and Ayurveda highlights its health benefits. You can sip this lovely drink at any part of the day. During the hot summer months, you can beat the heat with this cool drink instead of hot tea or coffee to help you keep cool. Buttermilk is so simple, easy and quick to prepare. You can easily prepare, chill it in the fridge and enjoy this healthy drink whenever you feel like it. It is so handy to give a healthy treat when you have guests, friends and family visiting you during the summer vacation instead of fizzy and aerated commercial drinks.

To make it easy to grab a healthy glass or tumbler of buttermilk; especially when we are looking for convenience, I prepare a batch of buttermilk in a large jug. Then refill it in tumblers and chill it so that my family can just pick and drink it straight from the tumbler! Besides, I use various combinations of spices and condiments to break the monotony. Above all, each one gets to enjoy and relish their favorite flavor.

Let’s prepare this awesome and wholesome drink which is so naturally pure and can be fixed in a jiffy with easily available ingredients in your kitchen… Cheers! … J
This recipe is a very flexible one and you can use the ingredients to suit your palate.  Add, subtract, mix and match spices and condiments to suit your taste. It is also a great fun activity for children during their vacation.

Ingredients :
250 gm / 2 cups Curds/Yoghurt or (Buttermilk after extracting butter)/or packaged
½ tsp fresh Ginger (grated or paste)
½ tsp. fresh Green Chilli paste or to taste
½ tsp. freshly roasted & ground Cumin pwd.
Sugar to taste (optional)
Salt to taste (optional)
A few freshly chopped  Coriander leaves
Water as needed
Important Tips & Suggestions :
Before you get started please take note of the following points..
Remember the curds should not be sour.
You can serve it without spices to children. Prepare it plain with the inclusion of sugar.
You can prepare a combined paste of ginger, green chillies and coriander leaves instead of making each paste separately.
If using curds then whisk and add enough water to thin it. Adding water depends on the desired consistency.
If you intend using packaged buttermilk then adjust the consistency with enough water.
Use full fat curds/yoghurt for a rich and creamy taste.
To achieve a perfectly balanced flavor, add  spices and condiments in moderation to the buttermilk/taak/mattha/chaas.

Procedure :
Whisk the fresh curds/yoghurt in the blender to make it smooth and creamy and then add enough water to thin it.
Give it a quick churn once again.
 Pour it in a sufficiently deep pot/pan/bowl/jug.
Add the prepared spices, condiments and seasoning.
Stir well and taste to check out the balanced flavors.
For us, the right flavor is sweet and mildly spicy (the hint of spiciness is the perfect blend of ginger and green chilli) with very light sourness which the buttermilk itself infuses into the prepared drink.
Serve chilled garnished with chopped coriander leaves.

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