It has been some time that we have been longing to taste mishti doi again. The recent first attempt to make mishti doi was a little disappointing at first (tooooo sweet!!) but T was brilliant and turned the cloying concoction into spectacular ice cream.
Mishti Doi, aka Lal Dahi (which translates as “red yoghurt”) is a lightly sweetened yoghurt prepared Bengali style. The sugar is caramelized first and gives the yoghurt a reddish tinge. We had mishti doi in Calcutta many years ago and have been dreaming of it ever since, never imagining that we could make it here in our kitchen!
With my fractured memory, I had thought there was cardamom in mishti doi as well (but I’m misremembering – it was the malaiya* we had in Benares that was flavoured with cardamom). According to the internet, some people do add cardamom to mishti doi. But T is a purist and wants it to be exactly like the Calcutta sweet shop versions of mishti doi.
And this is with fermenting the yoghurt in a pyrex bowl! As soon as we can get to Indiatown, we’re hoping to find unglazed clay bowls for fermenting yoghurt. Then maybe the texture will turn out the way I remember…
But frankly, if we can’t find a clay container, I’ll be perfectly content with our mishti doi finished in our pyrex bowl.
It is most wonderful. Ambrosia, in fact.
Dulce de Leche
- 1 tin (300ml) sweetened condensed milk
Mishti Doi (Sweetened Yoghurt)
- 1 litre milk
- 4 large Tbsp Dulce de Leche
- 2 Tbsp plain yoghurt*
- Dulce de Leche: Pierce the tin open at the top. Place upright in a small pot. Fill the pot with water to about ¼ inch (~6mm) from the top of the milk tin. Place the lid on the pot at an angle to allow the steam to drop into the side of the pot rather than into the tin. (Or you can cover top of the tin…). Turn the heat to low and gently simmer for 3 to 4 hours until the milk has thickened and turned dark gold. Make sure there is always plenty of water in the bottom of the pot. After it is done, set aside to cool.
- Mishti Doi (Sweetened Yoghurt): Scald milk by heating it slowly to 180F (82C). Using a candy thermometer is great but if you do not have a thermometer, the milk is the right temperature as soon as the milk around the edges of the pot start to bubble – just before the milk boils.
- Remove milk from the heat and whisk in 4 heaping TBSP dulce de leche. Four heaping tablespoons of Dulce de Leche is a good rule of thumb. Taste to make sure it’s sweet enough, but bear in mind that this should NOT be overly sweet. (And what to do with all that extra Dulce de Leche? Do you really need to ask?)
- Place the bowl in a cold water bath in the sink until the temperature goes down to 100F (38C). If you do not have a thermometer, check the milk against the back of your wrist; it should be baby bottle temperature.**
- Turn the oven to 100F(38C).
- Put the yogurt starter in a small bowl and whisk in a small amount of the cooled scalded milk. Then add this mixture to the warm milk and whisk everything together to ensure even distribution of the starter.
- Pour the milk/yoghurt mixture into as many pyrex or earthenware*** containers as you like. Place them uncovered in the warmed oven. To prevent the yoghurt from breaking up, refrain from moving the containers while the yoghurt is fermenting. The yoghurt will be ready in about 8 hours. Note that at this point, it will look rather loose. Place the containers in the fridge to firm up the yoghurt. The cooling halts the fermentation process.Notes
* The yoghurt starter must be made with milk solids and active bacterial culture only . We used “Phoenicia” brand 3.2% yoghurt. “Astro” and “Western” are other brands that would work (there should be zero gelatin or other thickeners in the yoghurt you choose; they will interfere with fermentation). We would have used our homemade yoghurt but there wasn’t any left. (It’s DELICIOUS!)
** If the milk is too hot when the yoghurt starter is added, the bacteria will die and your yoghurt will not set.
*** Although no reason was given, one recipe cautioned against using stainless steel containers to ferment the yoghurt.
It’s been twenty years that we’ve been dreaming about mishti doi! How tragic to have waited so long when it was so easily in reach.
Another ambrosial dish, in fact…. (Say, does anyone know how to make malaiya? )