Nothing like a glass of cool buttermilk to have with breakfast, or with a heavy weekend lunch, or just about anytime, especially if you live in a place like Bombay which has 3 seasons and all summer.
Though we do occasionally resort to opening a tetra pack of Masti Chaas (Amul), these days, I make a big pot of chaas first thing in the morning and keep it to cool in the fridge. Anytime we want something cooling, a glass of chilled masala mor (Mor is buttermilk in Tamil) is never far from hand.
I have heard of methods that make buttermilk by adding vinegar to milk and so on. In India, every family used to have a tradition of 'setting' dahi / thayir (yogurt) from milk every day, but this tradition is fast declining due to the convenience of store bought yogurt. Traditionally, in my grandmom's house, she would collect the creamy layer that was the top layer of yogurt made from whole milk, into a glass jar, every morning. This jar was kept in the fridge. When it became half full, she would add some lukewarm water to the jar, to make it 3/4th full and screw the lid tightly. The jar would be hand shaken for 5 minutes or so until the butter separated out on the top. This would be emptied into a bowl with some cold water, where the butter could be easily scooped up into a ball with the fingers and transferred to another bowl. The leftover liquid was the 'buttermilk'.
Since we don't get into the merry hassles of butter making (to help our sedentary lifestyles), we make buttermilk in a much simpler fashion. Take one part yogurt to 4-5 parts water, less or more water depending on how thick you want it to be.
Spices can be added depending on the mood. Just some crushed mint leaves and chaat masala is one of my favourites. The other being toasting a pinch of hing (asafoetida) and some mustard seeds in a spot of ghee, tossing the spluttered seeds into the buttermilk with some salt. I'm sharing with you below, the traditional Tamil way of preparing masala buttermilk.
Recipe for Masala Mor
Makes 4 small glasses
Recipe can be easily scaled up
Category - Indian summer drink, Coolant, Digestive drink
Serve along with any Indian meal
1. In a large bowl, whisk together one cup thick yogurt (preferably homemade or Greek at the most) with 5 cups water. Keep aside.
2. In a mortar, mash together a small bit of fresh ginger root, one small green chilli and some fresh coriander leaves with some sea salt or rock salt. Add this coarse paste to the buttermilk.
3. In a small saucepan, heat 1 tsp oil or ghee, and add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, a few curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir till the seeds splutter and transfer it into the buttermilk bowl.
4. Mix everything well. Check for salt. Serve chilled.