written by Shanthini Rajkumar
In most parts of India, the Indian summer is incomplete without a helping of probiotic rich buttermilk. The parched throat yearns for cooling liquids which will soothe and refresh the body. It is not uncommon to find small kiosks set up to offer passersby free buttermilk on a hot working day. Initiatives like these are offered by corporates in some cities.
Buttermilk making is a popular ritual in most households. The yoghurt or curd is churned well to remove the butter and lighter residual liquid is the buttermilk. Small quantities of buttermilk are made by whipping one part curd to 2 parts water for a thin buttermilk and a little less water for a thicker buttermilk.
In South India, the buttermilk replaces the curd as a lunchtime side, during the hot months of the year. The watery buttermilk is added to rice and eaten with a helping of raw shallots and green chillies. The combination is said to be perfect for the scorching heat of summer.
In our native village, Bhodani in the Indapur district of Maharashtra, we farmer folk enjoy our 'taak' (buttermilk in marathi) slightly sweetened with khadi saakhar (rock sugar) and some sendha namak. It is also given a small tadka with cumin seeds just before serving.
It is also enjoyed as a refreshing drink and flavoured to individual tastes. A mango lassi is a delicious drink, pale buttercup yellow and frothy with the sweetness of the delicious mango varieties available throughout summer time. Mint, green chillies, cumin powder, salt and ginger are another mix of ingredients added to the buttermilk to make what is called in Tamil “neer mor”. No gujarathi meal is complete without a generous helping of ‘chaas’ served with a sprinkling of chatpata spices.
The buttermilk is kept in earthen pots to stay cool and to prevent further fermenting from the heat of the day. Traditional foods like this existed without refrigeration by being stored in natural terracotta containers and kept under the shade of trees or on cool stone shelves. Seasonal living at its healthiest best.
Recipe for Mor Kazhi (Kalli)
This is a simple recipe which can be enjoyed as a meal or as a snack at any time of day. It contains simple ingredients and is a tasty savoury dish. The traditional recipes call for double fermentation and then cooking but a simplified version is used which is also healthy and takes a few minutes.
A link for the traditional recipe will also be shared below.
Rice flour - 1 C (any rice flour of choice)
Water - 2 C
Curd (slightly sour) -1 C
Whisk the curd and water together to make a thin buttermilk and set aside. Or use fresh buttermilk after churning curds and separating the white butter.
Cold pressed coconut oil or gingelly oil - 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp
Mustard seeds -½ tsp
Curry leaves - 12-15
Mor milagai (Buttermilk soaked dried chillies) - 3-5
If these chillies are not available, just use green chillies or dried red chillies
Asafoetida (hing) - a big pinch
White urad dal - ½ tsp
Split chana dal - ½ tsp
- Grease a wide shallow plate or tray with oil and keep aside.
- Whisk the rice flour into the buttermilk mixture and ensure there are no lumps.
- Take a wide mouth, deep bottom pan (kadai) and add set on low heat.
- Add the oil
- When it heats up add the asafoetida and mustard seeds.
- After it pops add the lentils (dals)
- Add the chillies and curry leaves.
- As soon as it crackles, add the rice flour buttermilk mixture and keep stirring.
- Keep stirring continuously. As it cooks the mixture will start to look shiny.
- Keep cooking until it turns into a thick mass and comes away from the sides of a pan (like a halwa does).
- Keep stirring until the consistency is like a dough.
- Take it off the fire and spoon it out onto the greased plate and flatten it.
- Add 1 tsp of oil on the top so that it does not turn too dry.
- Let it cool completely before cutting into squares.
- It can be eaten as is or also with any chutney on the side.
Link for the traditional fermented recipe
Another traditional buttermilk recipe