Disclaimer: In the last few posts you might have seen a tiny hand peeping in my photos. It was not intentionally done and my munchkin is not an official hand model for this blog. It just happens that whenever I shoot, my daughter wants to help me with food styling or winding up even before I finish Do you get a picture?
For twenty five years I lived in a pint size Tropical suburban town where the mercury never dipped below 80 Fahrenheit. It was always warm, humid and sticky. Being close to the seashore only made it worse except for the dusk when the cool sea breeze gushed into the land. During peak summer the mercury soars to 105 degrees on a worst day. Yet it wouldn’t stop us from venturing out to the community park. After soaking in the sun for hours I return home with a deep tan on my skin. As Amma hears my footsteps, she will yell from the kitchen ‘Radhi, pani ghalli aav’ (take a shower). I turn on the shower and anticipate ice cold water to drench my soul. Instead hot water crawls from the minuscule holes of the shower head. The scorching sun hasn’t spared the overhead water tank of our apartment building. Sigh. After a warm shower, I grab a neatly folded salwar and slip into it. My next task is to turn on the T.V and crash into the brown wicker sofa. As I relax (No, I am not lousy ), Amma hands down Neer mor, in a tall stainless steel glass with tiny cucumber bits floating on top. She would say my carcass will cool down if I drink this. Without researching the facts I gulp it down and chomp the tiny cucumber bits that I reserved it for the end. This is how a typical summer day was spent during my childhood other than visiting my grandparents and doing my school assignments.
Before Rasna, Tang and sodas became popular, a glass of neer mor was served to guests when they arrived during the day. I say it is an Indian tradition. But it slowly faded away when the packaged drinks and sodas engulfed the market. In recent years I have seen few road side stalls in chennai serving Neer mor for free during sweltering summer months. I wholeheartedly appreciate this gesture of the philanthrophist organizations.
Traditionally, Neer mor (Chaas in Hindi, Sambaram in Malayalam, Majjiga in telugu) is prepared by churning curds/yogurt using a wooden whisk (Matthu in tamil). Whisking separates the butter from curd leaving behind a thin water. It is spiced up with Tadka/Thallippu (Mustard seed and cumin seasoning with hing, curry leaves, finely chopped ginger and green chili) and then garnished with a handful of fresh coriander leaves and saved in a clay pot until it is time to serve. Some say it is a drink that even gods crave for. Its Ayurvedic properties helps to regulate the temperature of the body and its nutrients instantly energizes the soul. Drinking a glass of buttermilk with hing on a empty stomach helps to get rid of those ugly gastric disorders. In modern era, we don’t prepare buttermilk the same way as our ancestors did. We whisk yogurt and water (1:3) in a blender or a wooden whisk to which we add Tadka and serve. And this is how I do it too. Instead of clay pot I save it in my favorite german weck jars and serve it in a stainless steel tumbler or my ikea glasses. I add tiny bits of cucumber whenever available to further cool down our system
We also serve Neer more with rice and pickle and it is popularly called as Mor sadam in Tamil. In a lower middle class wedding, Neer more is served as the 4th course instead of curd in a 5 course Indian meal.
P.S: I haven’t tried making Neer mor from the real buttermilk I make at home. Probably I am so used to the yogurt:water method. However I use the buttermilk for making Mor kuzhabmu/Kadhi and replace it in several yogurt based recipes.
- In a blender, mix yogurt and water. Pulse it for 3-4 times until it combines.
- In a small pan or tadka pan, add oil. When it is hot add mustard seeds and wait until it splutters
- Turn off the stove and add cumin seeds, hing, curry leaves, ginger and chili. Give it a stir
- Pour it into the yogurt mixture. Add cilantro, finely chopped cucumber, salt. Stir it well and Serve Notes
- Traditionally, buttermilk is made by churning curd in a claypot using a wooden whisk/matthu.
- You can whisk the curd using a hand mixer or just using your muscle power
- Buttermilk is served in clay pots/matki or stainless steel lottas (glasses)
- You can add/remove spices as per your liking
- Add a pinch of sugar if you want to.