Friday, April 27, 2018

Mishti Doi


Mishti Doi literally means 'sweet yogurt'. This easy to make dessert is a Bangla delicacy; a festive dish prepared during Durga Puja and other auspicious occasions. Sweetened (with caramelized sugar/jaggery) thickened milk is flavored with a hint of cardamom and saffron, mixed with a small amount of active starter growth culture and at the right temperature allowed to set into a thick creamy yogurt. Caramelized sugar/jaggery adds a unique flavor and a lovely hue to the final dish. The cardamom and saffron are completely optional but I find they definitely enhance the taste. Traditionally, this was done in rustic and beautiful earthen pots. Mishti Doi is an absolute delight during those hot summer days.

I have been sampling this delicacy for several years now, courtesy our Bong friend Luna. I finally got down to making it myself a few days ago. I used the quick recipe with superb results. The little mishti bowls came out like a dream, delicately fragrant and awesomely delicious. If you are a stickler for making things from scratch, try the traditional recipe. It will take some time but will be well worth the effort. 
Here are two versions - the traditional and the quick. 

Traditional recipe
Ingredients: (serves 6)
4 cup whole milk
⅓ cup plain yogurt
 ½ cup sugar 
4-5 green cardamoms
2-3 pinches saffron
2 tbsp pistachios
  1. Reduce the milk - Bring the whole milk to boil. Simmer and keep stirring till it reduces to half its quantity. Reserve 2 tbsp sugar, add the rest to the milk and mix well. Keep aside to cool. Crush the cardamoms to a fine powder. When the milk cools, add the cardamom powder and a few strands of saffron to the milk mixture and stir to combine.
  2. Caramelize the sugar - Heat the reserved sugar in a pan over low heat till it starts to caramelize to a nice golden color. Remove from heat, add a tbsp of water and stir. Mix this into the milk mixture. 
  3. Set the yogurt - Preheat the oven to 175°F and then switch off the oven. This step is necessary for a climate like Toronto and creates a perfect environment for the active starter culture to do its magic. When the milk mixture cools down to just warm (little more than lukewarm), add the plain yogurt. Mix well, pour into small ramekins and place them on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Let it sit in the warm oven, undisturbed overnight to set. In the morning, refrigerate for a few hours. Garnish with some chopped pistachios and a couple strands of saffron before serving.
Quick recipe
Ingredients: (serves 6)
1½ cups evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk
½ cup condensed milk
⅓ cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp sugar 
4-5 green cardamoms
2-3 pinches saffron
2 tbsp pistachios
  1. Bring the whole milk to boil. Remove from heat.
  2. Add evaporated milk and condensed milk and mix to combine.  
  3. Heat the sugar in a pan over low heat till it starts to caramelize to a nice golden color. Remove from heat, add a tbsp of water and stir. Pour this into the milk mixture. 
  4. Crush the cardamoms to a fine powder. Add this powder and a few strands of saffron to the milk mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Preheat the oven to 175°F and then switch off the oven. This step is necessary for a climate like Toronto and creates a perfect environment for the active starter culture to do its magic.
  6. When the milk mixture cools down to just warm (little more than lukewarm), add the plain yogurt. Mix well, pour into small ramekins and place them on a baking sheet and cover with foil. 
  7. Let it sit in the warm oven, undisturbed overnight to set. In the morning, refrigerate for a few hours. 
  8. Garnish with some chopped pistachios and a couple strands of saffron before serving.