Chaas is a cool and refreshing yogurt based drink commonly taken with meals throughout India. It is a lightly spiced beverage which not only cools the body down, but also aids in digestion. Drinking chaas is also a great way to cool down a burning tongue and dispel any fiery hot chili taste from your mouth if you have accidentally bitten into a chili pepper or eaten overly spicy food.
Generally, buttermilk is usually made at home in India but here in the US, we are lucky to have it available year round in every large supermarket. The added advantage is that it is also a pasteurized product. In Maharashtra, chaas is known simply as “tak”.
Buttermilk is a delicious low-fat dairy product that is high in calcium, potassium and Vitamin B-12. It is also more easily digestible than milk.
1 cup good quality yogurt OR 2 cups store bought buttermilk
1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2-3 dried red chilies OR 2-3 fresh small Thai green chilies, halved lengthwise (to taste)
˝ tsp black mustard seeds
˝ tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafetida (hing)
6-8 fresh curry leaves
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tbsp oil, vegetable or canola
pinch of freshly toasted & ground cumin powder, optional
pinch of red chili powder, optional
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
If you are using yogurt:
In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt with 1 cup of water and whisk until smooth. Feel free to add as much or as little water as you prefer until you reach your desired texture and consistency. Next, add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Set aside until needed.
If you are using store bought buttermilk:
In a mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk with the salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. If you prefer your chaas a little thinner, just add a little water. Set aside until needed.
FOR THE TEMPERING:
In a small saucepan on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, carefully add the black mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds stop splattering, add the cumin seeds. Then quickly add the asafetida, curry leaves, minced ginger and either the dried red chilies or the fresh green chilies. Stir to combine all the ingredients with the oil and then pour the entire hot oil and spice mixture into the diluted yogurt or buttermilk. Mix well to combine all of the flavors. Sprinkle a little freshly toasted ground cumin powder and red chili powder. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve with any Indian meal.