And sour tastes the curd
Come summer, curds have a tendency to turn sour, much to our chagrin. If one forgets to store them in the refrigerator, even for a few hours, curds go sour, ruining our meals. But there’s an upside to this. Sour curds are the perfect ingredient for raitas, lassis and chaaj. And who can resist spiced buttermilk (neer majjige) in this intense weather? When churned together with curry leaves, ginger and seasoned with salt, asafoetida, curds can become a meal in themselves.
If you take the trouble to turn your sour curd into spiced buttermilk of various flavours, it can make your summer into a humble, healthy, and hydrated season. Let’s start with the basics. To make spiced buttermilk, churn the curd well with all kinds of flavouring substances. Though it is not wrong to add finely cut or chopped ingredients, it can be a good idea to grind all of them into a fine paste. This will help the ingredients to blend well in the fluid and reach your system effectively and will also enhance the taste, leaving very little residue. Before adding water (boiled and cooled to avoid possible water-borne infections), add salt and a pinch of sugar to the churned mixture.
Wondering what are the flavours you can try with the healthy drink? Well, green chillies and curry leaves are mandatory. All the other ingredients you can combine in varying measures to create a new flavour every time. Asafoetida, ginger, mint, dill, garlic cloves, the wet insides of a cucumber, sauteed onions or even a pinch of garam masala can be used to spice your buttermilk. Although it is customary to season neer majjige with mustard seeds and asafoetida, people who are reluctant to use oil can do away with the tradition. The variations will taste good with or without the seasoning.
Interestingly, sour curds can be put to different uses depending on its quantity:
* Lacing the freshly ground dosa batter with a cup of sour curds can enhance the taste and crispiness.
* The dough used to make chapatis, akki roti and besan roti will yield softer and tastier breads when sour curds is added while kneading the dough, with a pinch of salt.
*Rava dosas and idlis will turn out better when the ingredients are soaked in a combination of water, freshly set curds and sour curds, for at least an hour before they are prepared.
*While making upma, thick set curd can be added to the seasoned water when it has reached a boiling point, before adding the rava in it.
* If you happen to be making fryums at home, add a small bowl full of sour curds to about half a kg of the batter or dough to improve its flavour and colour.
* If you have found the choicest chillies in the market, buy half a kg. Wash dry and slit them at the tail end. Take about two litre of sour curds, salt it a trifle excessively and churn it well. Toss in the chillies, mix it well and keep the mixture in a closed container for a day and night. Spread out the ingredients on a try and dry them in the sun for a couple of days before storing them. The marinated chillies can be deep fried and used in place of store-bought pickles.
* If the curd has soured way too much, it may not be feasible to use it in your cooking. However, you can use it to wash your hair, especially if you want to get rid of dandruff. Or, it can be poured into your garden soil or in the potted plants. If you do not have soil around your home, pour the curd around the empty sink, spreading it evenly around. When you scrub the sink after half an hour, you will be surprised to find it refreshingly clean. So, do not fret the next time your curd turns sour. Now you know how to put it to good use!