Not just diluted curd: How to make the perfect buttermilk, according to Ayurveda
Amid the dizzying variety of cuisines in India, one thing that unites us is love for the refreshing flavour of buttermilk, whether we call it majjige, more, chaas, and taak or by any other name. Yet, while this summer favourite is well-loved, there are also misconceptions around the making of this drink, with many believing that buttermilk simply involves diluting curd with water.
Curd versus buttermilk
Ayurvedic texts mention two recipes involving curd—ghola and udashvit. Udashvit, commonly called lassi, involves adding water to curd without churning it to remove butter. Hence, the full fat content of the curd is retained in this preparation. On the other hand, while ghola is made by churning curd, no water is added to it.
Unlike both of these preparations, buttermilk or takra traditionally involves churning curd to remove butter and then adding an equal amount of water to it. As a result, buttermilk develops very different properties than both ghola and udashvit. Both of the latter preparations retain their guru (heavy) and snigdha (unctuous or oily) biophysical properties or gunas. However, buttermilk becomes laghu (light) and ruksha (dry). These processes lead to several buttermilk benefits.
Further, while ghola and udashvit both increase kapha and pitta in the system, buttermilk is tridoshahara, reducing all the three doshas of vata, pitta and kapha in the body.
Heaps of buttermilk benefits!
Buttermilk isn’t just light and refreshing on the tongue. Rather, this nutritious drink comes power-packed with several health benefits.
Buttermilk helps in improving the digestive fire, can be utilized in most people as it is suitable to all the three Doshas with specific combinations of spices.There are both sweet as well as sour buttermilk. If it is sour, having it with rock salt balances vaga, having it with sugar balances pitta and having it with the combination of pepper, long pepper, dried ginger helps to balance out kapha.The sweet one would have to be processed with ginger or a tadka of oil with mustard and hing to balance kapha.Other conditions in which buttermilk can be used include diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, anorexia, thirst and vomiting.
Many flavours, many buttermilk benefits
Not only is buttermilk healthful, but it can also be spiced with a variety of ingredients to suit a different prakrutis and provide a range of benefits. Thus, sour buttermilk mixed with rock salt or saindhava lavana is beneficial to a vata-dominant person. When mixed with sugar, it is beneficial for a pitta-dominant person. And with trikatu (long pepper, pepper, and ginger) and the barley-based medicine known as yavakshara, buttermilk is highly beneficial for a kapha-dominant person.
Spices like jeera, mustard, ginger, turmeric, asafoetida, pepper and long pepper contribute to reducing kapha and vata. Mustard and long pepper also aid in improving digestion. Rock salt, on the other hand, with its cool thermal property, contributes to reducing all the doshas, and helps improve eye health and taste.
When it comes to refreshing and cleansing one’s system, few things compare to a tall glass of properly prepared buttermilk. Add in a choice selection of spices, and you have a whole range of health benefits packed in one glass.
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