SEEMA Cooks: Healthy Indian’s Masala Majjige

masala majjige

Summer is here to stay for a long time where I am in northern Texas. The days are long and very warm. I can step out only during the early hours, or late in the evening. While I am out in the garden, I am waging a losing battle with pests big and small that want to invade my produce. You win some and you lose a lot. But those small wins still make you smile and seek more. That’s what gardens teach us about life.

Summers as a Child

I grew up in a similarly hot place in southern India. Summers were brutal – even more so than Texas – and we had no air conditioning. We also witnessed rolling blackouts of power as the grids struggled to stay in business. I recall heat fumes rise out of the tar roads like mirages. Never tried it, but I could have, perhaps, scrambled an egg on the hot street.

Adults slumbered during the hottest part of the day, but we kids didn’t care. Schools were closed, and that meant playing outdoors all morning and afternoon. Hopscotch, 5 stones (small round pebbles are deftly tossed and caught mid-air in various combinations), scaling huge mango trees, making “manja” (strings) out of broken glass for kites and a variety of activities that now seem so dangerous.

Worn out and dog tired, we’d drag ourselves back home, just as adults woke up from their afternoon siestas. After being told to wash up, I’d be served several varieties of homemade chilled drinks, depending on what was available at home.

Masala Majjige

One of my favorite drinks after a hard day’s play was masala majjige. Majjige is buttermilk in my mother tongue, Kannada. ‘Spiced’ is a loose translation of the word masala. Think of buttermilk as the opposite end of the spectrum from Greek yogurt.

There are two types of buttermilk. One is traditional buttermilk. Buttermilk is the protein-rich liquid left behind after hand-churning butter out from fresh cream. This is how buttermilk was made in most homes while I was growing up. Spices and herbs were added to this whey to make this majjige. Zero waste! The second type – cultured buttermilk – is made by churning yogurt or curd into a watery consistency by simply adding a lot of water. This is a probiotic-rich food.

Almost all the buttermilk that is available in stores is cultured. Do you recall how your family made buttermilk when you were growing up? Did you buy it from the store or make it at home?

Making Homemade Yogurt

Masala buttermilk

My buttermilk is still homemade. It is not traditional but cultured, if you go by the true definition. I make yogurt from raw milk (go to Real Milk Finder to find sources of raw milk in your state in the United States).

The Yogurt for Masala Majjige:

Heat 2 cups of milk (raw or pasteurized) on a low/medium flame using a thick-bottomed vessel. A food thermometer comes in handy. Heat milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow it to cool to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 2 teaspoons of yogurt culture (you can use plain organic store-bought yogurt) and mix it in well. Cover the milk and store it in a warm place for 6-8 hours. If you have an Instant Pot, use the “yogurt” setting and set the timer for 4-6 hours, depending on how sour you want your yogurt to be.

Yes, it is that easy to make yogurt at home! No gelatin, no preservatives, no chemicals. Nada. Just pure creamy goodness.

If you want to try out the recipe and are too busy to make buttermilk from homemade yogurt, you have a couple of options. One, buy organic whole milk yogurt from the store, preferably grass-fed. Two, buy a good quality Bulgarian buttermilk with no additives. If you are using buttermilk, use half the quantity of water, and be mindful of the salt you add, since store bought buttermilk already has added salt.

Why is This Healthy?

This nutrient- and probiotic-packed drink holds the key to helping improve many immune and digestive linked health issues. Ginger provides additional benefits to reduce inflammation. Add this to your diet along with other gut supporting foods like kefir, yogurt, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut for a healthy lifestyle.

Masala majjige
Masala majjige (image courtesy of Malathy Chandrasekhar)

Masala Majjige | Spiced Buttermilk | Chaas

This refreshingly spicy buttermilk drink is a must-have for hot summers. This comes together without any fuss. Be prepared to make a fresh second batch, as your guests guzzle it down!

Course: appetizer, drinks

Cuisine: Indian, North Indian, South Indian

Special Diet: Gluten-free, grain-free, no added sugar, nut-free, vegetarian

Prep time: 5 minutes

Total time: 5 minutes

Serves: 4

Calories: 96 kcal

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups yogurt – full-fat, soured. Else, use store-bought buttermilk
  • 2 cups filtered water – use 1 cup if using buttermilk
  • 2 inch piece of ginger – fresh
  • 4 green chili peppers. Or to taste
  • 16 sprigs cilantro – leaves and stalk
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt. Skip if buttermilk has salt
  • 1 tsp lime juice (optional). Use if yogurt is not sour
  • 8 ice cubes (optional; if you want to served chilled right away)

Tempering

  • ½ tsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp asafetida (hing)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves, finely cut

METHOD

  1. Add roughly chopped green chili peppers, ginger root, cilantro sprigs and salt to a high-speed blender.
  2. Add yogurt/curd. Add water, ice cubes (if using) and lime juice (if the yogurt is not sour enough). If using full fat yogurt, use more water. If using buttermilk, add less water.
  3. Blend at high speed until everything is blended and the buttermilk is frothy.
  4. Taste and adjust the water, salt, spice and sourness levels. Give it one more churn in the blender.
  5. Heat coconut oil in a tempering dish. Splutter mustard seeds, add asafetida (hing) and finely chopped curry leaves.
  6. Pour tempering into the masala buttermilk. Mix and refrigerate or serve right away.

Notes

*Use organic ingredients wherever possible

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