Homecoming treat for Mrs. Indumati……
Last December, Big Sis J brought home a stout card stock Gingerbread Man cutout from school. The first graders had an assignment on Festivals. Every child had to write about their favorite festival and dress-up the Gingerbread Doll traditionally, as he/she would for that festival. And J wanted to do Diwali. She loves Diwali, the big Indian festival of lights.
She and I sat down to talk about how we must dress up the doll. She said, “Mumma, I love when you wear a Saree. It look so pretty. Can you make the doll wear one too?” “A saree?”, I asked thoughtfully. “Umm, well okay – that’ll be fun!” 🙂 J and I were quick to dig in her craft cubby and pull out supplies we wanted for our project. A 2 inch golden ribbon for the saree, green lace to make a blouse, black fuzzy sticks, wriggly eyes, beads, polyester strings, jewels, tacky glue, white craft ribbon, buttons, embroidery threads and markers!! Boom!! We transformed the plain card stock cut-out into a bright and “full-of-life” Indian doll. I finished it with a big round Bindi and a pair of old faux-pearl earrings I had preserved once upon a time (I secured the earring push-pin back with some play-dough to render it safe). J wanted a “very Indian” name for her doll and settled for Mrs. Indumati, after a dozen rejections. Mrs. Indumati was gorgeous and enchanting. We loved her!
At school during her Show-and-tell, J had the nicest of compliments for Mrs. Indumati. She said, “Mrs. Indumati is from India and loves colors…bright ones! She always wears a dress as this (saree!) and likes to hold the back train (the Pallu!). She has a hard time choosing a saree because she has too many of them, so she does an Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Most of the times she has her make-up on and likes to be beautiful. Today she is dressed up for Diwali and is wearing her best saree, one that’s warm, cozy, pretty and golden. She loves her shiny jewelries…huge earrings, dazzling bangles, nose-pin with a poky thingy, a necklace and anklets without bells (so they don’t hurt her feet!). She is wearing her finest Chappals (Flip-flops) that help her toes feel the windy breeze. Indumati has long, black, lustrous hair that she keeps braided. She curls her eye lashes because she likes being pretty a lot! Mrs. Indumati wakes up at 4 in the morning and works hard during
the day at office. She looks after everyone at home. She stays up late in the night to watch TV shows, like watching the Ball Drop telecast from NYC on New Year’s!!!”.
Well that was an enormous lot about Mrs. Indumati and apparently she was the “prettiest doll” inJ’s class. For more than a month, Mrs. Indumati was hanging on the wall, adorning J’s classroom. And then she came home. J was super happy and showed her to me the first thing after school. She wanted us to party…and celebrate Mrs. Indumati’s homecoming in very Indian way. As is customary, I thought of making Meetha or Sweet (desert) to mark the occasion.
I’ve been making the Indian sweetened yogurt (Meetha Dahi or Mishti Doi) since several years now. I make it in the simplest and easiest way and have had friends come back for more! Today I thought of doing it with a little twist and it turned out a huge box-office hit among J’s friends and their families!!! J was a bit too delighted and said “Mumma, thank God Mrs. Indumati can’t eat – so I got her share of yogurt!” Yes honey, thank Goodness! Life is fun, with an occasional touch of melodrama! 🙂
Here’s the recipe for you:
- 1 can Evaporated Milk (12 fl oz or 350 ml)
- 1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 fl oz or 400 ml)
- 8 oz or 230 ml Sour Cream
- 1/2 cup* Plain Yogurt
- 2 cups* of diced fresh ripe/sweet mango (about 250 gms) -- I used Del Monte's Mango Fruit Cups
- Chopped Pistachios for garnish (optional)
- Dried Cranberries for garnish (optional)
- *I use American Cups (1 US cup = 237 ml)
- Keep the diced mango in a colander to discard excess juice. Juice interferes with yogurt consistency and makes it thin.
- In a saucepan, heat the evaporated milk on medium heat. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Just as the milk starts boiling, switch off stove and take the pan off it.
- Pour sweetened condensed milk into evaporated milk and stir thoroughly to mix. If you like your yogurt less sweet, use less than 1 can of sweet condensed milk during this step.
- In a separate bowl, whip the sour cream smooth with a spoon.
- Now using a ladle, add 2-3 ladle full of the milk mix into sour cream and whisk them well with a spoon. Whip a little, to get a uniform mixture or until you don't see lumps of sour cream separately. (Do not use a blender here - it may ruin the final sweet yogurt consistency)
- Now add the whipped sour cream into the saucepan containing the milk mixture and stir well to blend nicely.
- Whisk the plain yogurt and add it to the warm saucepan mixture and stir. Ideally, milk mixture should have a temperature between 100-115°F or 43-46°C, for yogurt making. If milk is too hot, it'll kill the live lactobaccilus in the yogurt. Use a Thermometer if required, to ensure that the temperature of mixture is not too much.
- Put the diced mangoes into serving bowl or distribute into serving cups.
- Gently pour the yogurt mixture into the bowl or divide in the cups using a ladle.
- If you live in a hot climate, cover the bowl/cups and place them in a warm dry place or in a warm water-bath for about 5-6 hours for yogurt to set in firmly. Alternatively, preheat oven to about 180-200°F or 82-93°C and switch off. Place the bowl/cups in the oven -- close and let stand for 3-6 hours for yogurt making. (Do not heat the bowl/cups in the oven directly -- this may kill live culture in the yogurt.)
- Once the yogurt sets, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before serving. Garnish with chopped pistachios or dried cranberries.
For a plain Indian Sweet Yogurt or Meetha Dahi, skip adding the fruit. To make traditional Bengali Mishti Doi, use 3/4th can of sweetened condensed milk (in place of 1 can). After addition of sour cream, add 4 tbsp melted/liquid Nolen or Khajur Gur (Date Palm Jaggery) for a rich brown colored divine yogurt. Alternatively, add 2 heaped tbsp of powdered brown sugar dissolved in minimal warm evaporated milk. Brown sugar does impart the color to yogurt, but doesn’t result in a yogurt as amazing as one you’ll get with the date palm jaggery. If you are fortunate, you should be able to grab a decent quality date palm jaggery at the nearest Indian/Bangladeshi store! For a thick yummy Mishti Doi, make yogurt in earthen pots or terracotta cups. Earthenware soak in excess water from the yogurt, leaving behind thick, soft textured yum!
Fruit on the bottom Yogurt: In place of mango, any fruit can be used – a fruit that does not release too much juice. Cut fruits into slightly bigger bite-size chunks, so they settle down at the bowl/cup bottom. Then pour warm yogurt mixture and let stand for it to set in. 🙂