Friday, August 31, 2012

Nishasta...milk, the Indian Way.

I was never a milk person....all my life I remember hating the white stuff, and my mom trying her hardest to make me have my pre-requisite 1 cup-a-day during the growing-up years. As far as I recall, she tried all the additives/ flavorings available in the market-  which was pretty restricted at that time. We finally settled on Nescafe-flavored, unsweetened milk for my breakfast; and even that, I'd try to skimp out on, most times. My constant whine being that milk 'smelled'. All that would change during the summer months when we went to my naani's place. During my stay there, I became a milk guzzler for some reason. 

At my naani's, we didn't go to get milk, the milk came to us- in the form of the milkman; sharp at 5am. My naani or maami (aunt) would hurry out as soon as they heard him, with a big, brass tonkani in hand. Stepping out, they'd call out their order, with a loud warning.... that they'd not pay the doodhwala bhaiya if they tasted water in his milk.  And the bhaiya always came back with....'Bai sa, Ramji (God) sees me even if you don't' - while he measured out the order using his funny looking cups with long handles. Here he got his second admonishment- that he was measuring less than what he was supposed to. The bahiya shook his head, then pointing to my cousin and I our giggling away as only 6-yr olds can, would ladle out an extra pao-kilo,  'for the guest gudiya visiting from big city Delhi'.  

So after we got our milk from the milkman, my maami strained it through a cheesecloth, and then boiled it. It actually had to come to 'teen uphan' (boiled three times over), and then cooled immediately in a paraath filled with water. The whole thing was then put away in a 'cheenka' - a handmade rope and basket contraption hung from the ceiling to keep  bugs and animals away from food. Here it stayed till 9am - breakfast time. We all got a big glass-full of milk - with a thick layer of malai (cream) on top. Along with jalebi or ladoo and bikaneri bhujia .....  If you got jalebi, you'd put your malai on it before eating; and if you got ladoo, you'd crumble it up in the bhujia for the sweet and savory mix. 

My last summer visit to my naani's was probably 8th grade- after that school and competitive exams took over. So by the time I got married, I'd sort of forgotten that grown ups could also have milk for breakfast- like A and his brother. The difference being that their mom made them Nishasta - something I'd never heard of in my side of the family.  

Nishasta



Milk  1 cup
Water  1/4 cup
Sugar  1Tbsp

Ghee  1tsp
Saffron   a pinch

To soak:

10-12 almonds.
3-4 munakka (sultanas/ large raisins)

1tsp magaz (melon seeds)
1-2 pods green cardamom

  1. Soak the almonds and everything else  for 4-5 hrs, or overnight. Then peel off the almonds.
  2. Soak saffron in cold milk.
  3. Now grind everything together to make a fine paste
  4. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed kadai and sauté this paste till ghee leaves the sides.
  5. Pour in your milk.
  6. At this point, I rinse my grinder with a 1/4 cup of water and pour that in too.
  7. Bring it all to a full boil, then add the sugar and mix.
Serve HOT..!

My two cents:  In all fairness, even though I liked Nishasta better than ordinary milk, it still lacked the rich, creamy taste of the milk that doodhwala bhaiya brought home at my naani's. That being said, Nishasta is a very rich, filling version of milk that can be overwhelmingly heavy on an empty stomach if you're not used to it. In small amounts though, it's delicious; and no doubt nutritious.  I make it less often than A would like me to....but he asks for it almost every other winter weekend. 

Nishasta is one of the things I can say that I hadn't heard of at all in my home. In that sense, I am not sure if this is a regional preparation. I'd love to hear what you all have to say about it. Till then, make yourself a cup this winter, and see the warmth take you over :-)) And meanwhile- this is A's one of favorite kinds of milk.

Linked to 

Hubby's delight contest
Dish name begins with a N at Akila's