Masala Chaas/ Chhanch/ Salty Spicy Buttermilk

6:01 AM

As the bus approached the stop I started rising from my seat. Its a hot Summer afternoon and the bus is almost empty compared to  'almost filled to the brim', other weekdays. 'Saturdays are such a relief, I thought to myself while trying to maintain my balance in the running bus. from my past experience I knew the bus will come to a sudden halt with a loud screech  The drivers, particularly this one never tries to slow down before any stop, making all the passengers dis-balanced.  I with my 5' something (plus 3" heel) petite frame find it extra difficult to stand still so I moved fast to reach for the door handle.
The old driver in his sweat drenched shirt gave us a bored look. He might have been working since morning. Paani loge Uncle (do you want water?) I offered my bottle to him that I filled from my office cooler just before heading out. He dismissed the offer with an irritated hand movement, "Abhi tak khana bhi naseeb nahi hua (I haven'r eaten yet)". I got down and waited for the bus to move, before crossing the road.

Its quarter past 2 in the afternoon and the Sun is at its worst. The usually crowded locality looked deserted. The huge ground at the back of the stop is dry and arid, as if fume is coming out from the field. There is no one in the vicinity, not even the cows who usually come and rest under the shade of the trees. The air is burning hot. while covering my face with the scarf I searched the bag for the umbrella. I have to walk down the road through a small neighbourhood before reaching my apartment.

I crossed the familiar lanes and by-lanes while hearing the continuous hum of the air coolers. The air is heavy with an earthy aroma of dust and the khas, commonly used to flavour the cooler water. The path is shaded from the rows of adjacent houses on both sides and provided a much needed respite. As the road took a sharp turn near my building, I fold the umbrella and found the corner vegetable shop's elderly uncle sitting on his porch, fanning himself with the edge of his dhoti and looking into oblivion. For some unknown reason he cared for me a lot and I always got special discounts. He even insists me to share his breakfast if I chance upon to visit the shop during that time.
 'abhi aya betaji?' he enquired with a smile. 'haanji uncleji' I tried to match his jaath tone. 'Jao jake rest karo (go and take some rest)'. I smiled and started to climb the stairs.
The doorbell had a beautiful chiming tone, at the end of which bhai opened the door. 'ato deri holo? (why so late?) he asked closing the door behind me. 'Had some work. When did you come back? The brother was doing his interns with a 5 star Hotel and often had to do night shift for their very famous Kebab section. 

With the thick curtains drawn and the cooler on, the room is dark and comforting. I quickly changed and opened the fridge for my usual fix that the brother never forgets to make. A big glass jugful of Masala Chaas or spicy buttermilk. I took time and carefully filled our glasses with some ice cubes. Poured the salty watery drink from a height to create froth on the top... A sip and I was in heaven...light on the taste-bud yet so refreshing...The whole day's tiredness was gone as we sat on the floor and took time to enjoy our drink while planning for the weekend.

Today after almost a decade, I again shared it with another man in my son. Who loved it to the last drop. Again we giggled and played ludo while sipping on our glasses of spicy light buttermilk.

A friend of mine calls this chaas,  the poor cousin of Lassi. While the Lassi is thick, creamy and sweet the chaas is light, watery and salty. Both these drinks have their own appeal and cant be replaced for one another. As food value is concerned this drink is sure to aid in digestion.

Our recipe is quite watery. If you like it thick add more curd but not more than 1/2 part curd to 1 part water. 

(Makes 2 medium glass)

Yogurt: 3/4 cup (i used homemade) plz see notes
Water: 2 cups
Black salt: 1/2-3/4 tsp or as per taste
Amchoor powder: 3/4 tsp
Roasted cumin powder: 1/3 tsp
Ice cubes to serve

Take everything in a big tall vessel. Using a whisk or a handheld metal/wooden whisk (the one we use to mix lentil/dal) mix everything together.

The mixture should be smooth and frothy. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more salt or amchur powder.

Place 5-6 ice cubes in a glass and pour the chaas over it. Decorate with a sprig of mint if you wish and serve immediately.

If you plan to make it ahead then make sure to churn it once before serving.

A Homemaker's Notes:
I would not recommend using very thick yogurt for this. for best result use fresh, not so sour, homemade yogurt.

You might also muddle few mint leaves if you want.

Similarly chaat masala could also be used in stead of Amchur powder.

I use amchur powder to balance the sourness as fresh homemade curds are not very sour. 

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  1. Love these simple refreshing re-hydrating drinks .. Beautiful clicks

  2. oh i can imagine this would have been so good after sun snapped all your energy
    super tempting:)
    Looks yummy

  3. I love Masala Chas... And it is soo refreshing isnt it!!!

    Thank you for stopping by !!

  4. My dad absolutely loves spiced up buttermilk and I really enjoyed your short story there despite imaging how hot n uncomfortable it might have been. Here in Minneapolis its so cold all the time that a nice sunny story always lifts up my spirits!! "Grass is always greener on the other side" ;-)

  5. yet another cooling and refreshing summer drink. i just love it with some black salt.

  6. Refreshing.. perfect for this summer!!


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