Sunday, June 1, 2008

Malai Lassi

Today is the first day of my cooking-blogging days ahead and I’m really excited, so much so that I really don’t know where to start, since I’ve ventured into sharing my experiences with food at large , I’ll begin the journey from home, where I grew up. Being from Lucknow – the city of Nawabs and, born to a mom who has treated her recipes as my siblings, I have a close connection with food…going back to my Lucknow days, I have to begin my culinary journey with Chowk(the epicenter of food@Lucknow).

The Chowk

Throughout northern India, the Chowk is the focal point of activity. The main markets are invariably sited around it, and every city has a little clock tower which marks its centre. Lucknow is no different; the Chowk is the birthplace of chaos, it is here that chaos originates, spirals, and proliferates through narrow arterial lanes and by-lanes till it reaches the newer quarters of the city, where its traditional character is diluted by the affluence of the city’s newer inhabitants.

Let me start my food voyage of discovery from the gate leading into its boisterous innards, “The Bada Darwaza” or big gate. The time should be almost four P.M—I blend into the chartreuse and ochre streets like a ghost, entirely ignored. Bumped into—sworn at for being an impediment to a rickshaw pullers progress—spat on accidentally, nevertheless completely invisible. Perplexed at the untruth of my existence, I stare into a barber’s mirror. My reflection lost amid the sea of faces. Reassured that I have my place reserved for me among the multitude I stand in line for a chilled glass of thick malai lassi, reassured that I am somewhere among them, I laugh and dance in front of the mirror and still wait patiently. To the others I still don’t exist. I enslave a few reflections in my camera; I shall post them here for you all to examine and interrogate them as to why our existences have ceased to matter in front of food.

Now my saying all this does not mean that chowk is a place for hungry scavangers and mild mannered like us will be spat upon, but this emphasizes the significance food holds for hungry growly stomachs at the end of a working day for labour class people. And IF food standard is anywhere to go by, Chowk food is lip smacking and simply delicious. For a vegetarian like me, the non-veg smell is a turnoff, and I wouldn’t be in Chowk if it weren’t for the pull off delicatessen sweets.

Malai Fruit Lassi

1 cup full fat curd/greek yogurt
1 cup medium ripe and sweet mango(preferably pureed) or any sweet tropical fruit
1/2 cup crushed ice
sugar to taste
rock salt 1 pinch
1/2 roasted and crushed cumin seeds

In a mixer put all the above ingredients and mix at medium speed for 3 mins or till sufficiently frothy .

Saffron Lassi(saffron yogurt shake)

Instead of fruit and cumin seeds,to the above list of ingredients add saffron to 1/4 cup warm water and soak for an hour, mix all the above. Pour in a tall broad rimmed glass, decorate glass with a mixture of salt and sugar (powdered ) and dip the glass rim, like the way you would for Margarita. Add a slice of lime and fresh garden mint.It will give a perfect nawabi aroma as well as a heady saffron twinge to flavour and taste.

Diet lassi(diet yogurt shake)

In the above list of ingredients replace full fat curd with skim milk curd/yogurt and take a low calorie fruit like peach or papaya.Mix it and flavour with pomegranate for a perfect burst of colour.

Chandni Chowk wali lassi(The ubiquitous Punjabi lassi served in Chandni

Go to chandni chowk and you cant miss the lassi in the parathe wali gali, for the price and flavour its like ambrosia!!
All you need to do is take the following
1 cup full fat curd/Greek yogurt
1 cup medium ripe and sweet mango(preferably pureed) or any sweet tropical fruit
1/2 cup crushed ice
sugar to taste
rock salt 1 pinch
1/2 roasted and crushed cumin seeds

And mix as for the malai wali lassi, as the topmost garnish add a huge spoonful of Cold Rabri(which is thick sweetened milk almost like a thick paper bundle) .yommm.
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