Friday, July 22, 2011

Keep It Cool

The news of the east coast heatwave is making waves across the country. Every time I turn on the radio, I hear some doctor or the other lecturing on how to beat the heat that can cause dehydration and exhaustion. Drink lots of fluids, don't go out in the afternoon, have fruit juices and what not...

Growing up in India, dealing with heat was a way of life. Come May, the temperatures would soar to 3 digits making it impossible for most people to go out. Let's not even talk about the humidity. But we kids didn't care! We still wanted to make the most of our summer vacation and play to our hearts' content. After all, who wants to waste one precious month away from school cribbing about the weather! We just wore white cotton clothes, ate lots of mangoes and other juicy fruits and drank plenty of Mattha to keep us cool! Mattha - spiced buttermilk - is a popular drink in Maharashtra, especially during the summer. The drink reminds me of the numerous summers spent in my Grandma's town Paali, enjoying the cool waters of the river, climbing mango trees, picking the plummest fruits and berries, chasing cow and buffalo herds, hiking up and down the mountains and running back home to grandma, expecting a tall glass of mattha to quench our thirst!

The buttermilk was made by churning fresh home-made yogurt that produced dollops of creamy butter floating on top. Grandma would carefully separate the butter leaving just enough so the bits of solidified butter gave us a white mustache! She sometimes put up a stall at the local fair to sell this drink. Needless to say, it had the longest lines and ran out way before the closing time. My sister and I would sit at the 'cash register' feeling extremely important. I don't know if it was that, or getting to smuggle some of the mattha before getting over, made it more fun! We didn't know anything about "keeping hydrated" or "replenishing electrolytes" at the time; all we knew was, a glass of mattha made by grandma's loving hands felt really good! 

Mattha - Spicy-Savory Buttermilk

1lb Lowfat yogurt
1inch Fresh garlic
1 Small green chili or use 1/2 Serrano
3/4 Teaspoon cumin seeds
1-2 Teaspoons sugar
Black salt/ regular salt to taste
Pinch of asafoetida if using regular salt
Handful of cilantro - chopped
Water as needed
  • Grind the garlic and green chili coarsely in the grinder/mixer. Add cumin seeds towards the end so they get barely broken instead of becoming fine powder. 
  • Mix a cup of water in the yogurt and churn it using a hand mixer or food processor. Add water depending on how thick you like the buttermilk. This actually tastes better a little thin.
  • Add the paste, sugar, black salt (use regular salt if you don't have black salt and add a pinch of asafoetida to give that slightly pungent taste of black salt), cilantro and stir well. Serve chilled. 

This drink is our version of savory Lassi! Buttermilk is really good for your health and the hints of spices balanced by the sweetness of buttermilk and sugar make a great combination. All of you affected by the heat wave, make yourself a glass of this spicy, savory, and slightly sweet drink and keep yourself cool. The fortunate ones to escape it, pull out your beach chair, sip on a glass of mattha and enjoy the sun!

1 comment:

Tanvi@Sinfully Spicy said...

Whoa...I m drooling...its quite a harsh summer in Vegas too..wish I cud have that cool mattha too :) Looks yum!


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