We have mishti doi!!

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summary: homemade mishti doi recipe; (click on image to see larger view and more photos)

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.

mishti doi I have only had it once and so my recollection of it was that it was a little denser and more like cheese cake texture. But T has had it many times and says it’s exactly as he remembers.

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.

Here’s how T made mishti doi using our stove, oven and fridge:

Mishti Doi

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*

preparation

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?)
  4. 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.**
  5. Turn the oven to 100F(38C).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

* I have no idea how to make malaiya. We saw it being prepared outside of a sweet shop in Benares. Lightly sweetened milk (buffalo milk???) flavoured with cardamom was being boiled in a giant copper bowl. The result was a frothy refreshing mousse. It was incredibly refreshing.

Another ambrosial dish, in fact…. (Say, does anyone know how to make malaiya? :-) )

 

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  • tph

    About Lal Doi

    Sweetened yogurt is commonly found all over India. It’s simply made by adding white sugar to the yogurt before fermenting. Lal Doi is pure Bengali. With it’s caramelized flavour and thick and luscious consistency, Lal Doi is very different from any sweet yogurt I’ve ever had.

    I first tasted Mishti Doi (Lal Dahi) in Calcutta in the mid 1970’s. I loved it immediately, in part because it reminded me of the caramelized sweetened condensed milk my mother used to make when I was growing up in Winnipeg in the 1950’s and ’60’s. It wasn’t until 40 years later that I learned that this had another name; Dulce de Leche.

    Strangely, Lal Doi is not even found in every neighbourhood of Calcutta. I could never find it in the neighborhoods surrounding New Market, the area where most hard core over-land travelers stay when they visit that huge city. I had to travel across town to the Gariahat Market area to find it. It was always a highlight of a Calcutta visit.

    edit: This mishti doi recipe is easily as good as any I’ve tasted in Calcutta.

  • I’m delighted to understand mishti doi now, but no I don’t know malaiya either. If I make it to Calcutta I’m have to try it. Well, unless you have extra left for me.

    Maybe you won’t have to go all the way to Benares to try Malaiya. Maybe we’ll figure out how can make it yourself. In the meantime, you can always console yourself with mishti doi. -E

  • This mishti doi looks absolutely perfect and just the way I remember it when I tasted it in Calcutta. I am so going to give this a try, thanks for sharing the recipe :-)

    You’re very welcome, Usha. I’m really looking forward to hearing how it goes for you and if you too think it is exactly like the mishti doi you have had. -Elizabeth

  • What an interesting recipe… I’ve never had it nor heard of it. And I’ve never been to India… although I know people who have. I’m going to tell my friend in Spain about this. He’s recently decided to switch from Indonesian to Indian cooking for awhile. Yeah, he’s a little eccentric.

    I think everybody should get to taste Mishti Doi at least once. And of course, after tasting it once, once won’t be enough. Make sure you tell your Spanish friend about srikund as well, Katie. He neeeeeds to know about that too. (Indonesian to Indian, eh? Is he going down alphabetically? Is Icelandic next? :-)) -Elizabeth

  • aditi

    hi, i was so happy to find your recipe…was trying to make mishti doi for a long time…luckily i found caramelised condensed milk…so it was really easy …just mixed it with ready made yogurt..microwaved for 5 mins …and…it was amazing!!

    edit 7 July 07:56EDT: I’m glad your method works for you, Aditi! Isn’t it wonderful to have mishtidoi? -Elizabeth

  • khushi

    Hi,
    Even I have tried to make mishti doi with very normal ingredients available at our home. Hope you would like it

    http://yummyfood-khusi.blogspot.com/2010/11/sweet-curd-mishti-doi.html