Mention that you are a Bengali and conversations are bound to lead to Rabindra Sangeet, Kolkata and food. There are assumptions galore that with Bengali genes you are a walking encyclopedia of all things mentioned above.
It’s rather amusing – for me at least – when I say I’m not very knowledgeable about either of these. Having been brought up outside Bengal, my exposure to culture has been varied – I’ve learned a few things Bengali from my parents, I’ve learned several things Gujarati having grown up in Rajkot-Baroda-Ahmedabad (cities in Gujarat) and I’ve learned loads of things pan-Indian owing to my friends who’ve been from different parts of the country.
I’m often given a sympathetic look for this supposedly gaping hole in my upbringing, mostly from those whose idea of ‘culture’ is restricted to the obvious.
When I say obvious, I mean those who think every Bengali sprouts Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry, rolls their vowels and eats only ‘maacher jhol, bhaat, rosogolla’ (fish curry, rice and a Bengali sweet), Gujaratis eat only dhokla-fafda (types of snacks) and do the garba at the drop of a pin, all Punjabis eat only parantha and lassi for breakfast …and… you get the drift?
I, for one, find this mixed bag of cultures that is part of my upbringing to be rather fascinating! Every day I learn something new and there’s so much variety in life! I’m unhindered by the blinkers of a particular culture-making each experience a revelation.
Learning how to make the mishti doi at home was one such experience.
I’d always been under the impression that this sweetened yoghurt is a delicacy available only in shops; until my mother informed me otherwise and my genius aunt treated me to her version of the mishti doi.
Traditionally, the mishti doi which literally means ‘sweet yoghurt’ is made by thickening milk which is then sweetened with sugar or jaggery, mixed with some curd and left to ferment overnight in earthen pots. My aunt’s version does away with the sugar and jaggery. She prefers to add condensed milk to the thickened milk. This makes the mishti doi creamier, giving it a beautifully smooth texture.
This mishti doi works wonders as a premade dessert for a party. Allow it to set in individual bowls to save you the hassle of portioning at a later stage. Serve it alone or garnish with some seasonal fruits like chopped plums and strawberries or even slivered dried fruits. The choice is yours.
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Yoghurt made with thickened and condensed milk and then allowed to ferment overnight.
- 750 ml Milk (high fat content)
- 500 ml Hung Curd
- 200 grams Condensed Milk
- 2 Cardamom Pods
- 2 Plums (optional)
- 2 tablespoons Dried fruit slivers (optional)
Heat the milk in a thick-bottomed pan, stirring frequently to avoid formation of milk solids. Let the milk cook till it reduces to half the original amount, adding lightly crushed cardamom pods midway.
- Once reduced, remove the thickened milk from the flame.
- Add condensed milk to the reduced milk and mix well.
- Let the milk cool for a bit – the milk should be warm, not cold, before you add the curd.
- Once the milk has reached the desired temperature, add the curd and mix well.
- Pour into a big serving bowl or individual bowls and keep in a warm place to set overnight.
- Once the mishti doi has set, pop it into the refrigerator to avoid spoilage.
- Serve chilled as it is, garnished with chopped fresh seasonal fruits or slivered dried fruits.
- Homemade yoghurt sets faster in warm temperatures. If it’s too cold in your part of the world, place the filled containers in a closed microwave or oven. DO NOT SWITCH ON THE APPLIANCE. The closed space will protect the yoghurt from the cold and damp.
- You can easily do away with cardamom.
- For colour, soak a few strands of saffron in thickened milk for 5 minutes. Mix the saffron threads in the thickened milk before adding the curd.