Afternoon meals, throughout my childhood at home in Kashmir, were never complete without a tall glass of buttermilk. Each morning, my Grandpa would go to the local Dairy seller and bring home fresh milk & yogurt. It was an everyday job because one always ran out of milk and yogurt by the end of the day and because one always bought only as much was needed for that day as the refrigerators were not yet commonplace.
The afternoon ritual in summer would be to gather some cool fresh water from the pond ( yes an actual mineral water pond and No! It did not need to be filtered) or the faucet and add it to yogurt and churn them together to make the buttermilk for everyone. In winters, water would be warmed up a bit before adding it to the yogurt.
It was said that the buttermilk was especially necessary after eating spicy food. ‘It restores balance’, my Grandpa would say. The process of churning the buttermilk with a wooden “choomph” or churner was rhythmic and there was an art involved. The yogurt had to be churned the right way, the buttery fats had to float to the top in a nice froth, the spices and salt had to be just right.
Choomph or the churner!
The serving of the buttermilk was, well, treacherous. Everyone had to have a little bit of the buttered froth. And we kids would measure each other’s butter tops to see if anyone was favored with more. It usually was more or less the same amount for everyone. I think my Grandmom figured out it was easier to measure out equal butters than deal with our whining the whole day. Or may be she did love us all equally. I however still believe I was her favorite. And I am sure my siblings think that they were.
Fast forward to now and I can only sigh for the buttered top of the buttermilk. The things it does to ones waist line are better left unsaid. That said, the benefits of drinking buttermilk are not diminished. It’s probiotic, it is a great drink in place of juice or sugary drinks, it’s refreshing and the best part – it’s delicious. Just leave out the butters and drink up the buttermilk. What to do with the butter foam? I am assuming you don’t have a teenager in your house!
I usually make my own yogurt but you could also make this with any of the keffir drinks readily available. Some of them are reduced fat or fat free as well. So all you have to do is mix in water and spice, stir and sip.
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 cup cool water
- 1/2 tsp dried mint leaves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
- Place the yogurt in a tall container and whisk it until smooth.
- Add in the water and the rest of the ingredients and blend whisk it all together.
- You can leave this in the refrigerator to serve later. The water will separate from the yogurt, so ensure you mix it before serving.
- I serve it as a drink option with spicy food or snacks.