Sunday, January 03, 2010

Mishti Doi

When my parents were visiting with us a few months ago, my mother told J a Bengali folk tale in which Mishti Doi plays a very critical role. Indeed, the protagonist finds this particular delicacy so irresistible that he forgets some important promises and thus the story.

Now, ever since J heard about the indescribable delights of Mishti Doi and it's ability to induce momentary lapse of reason, she has been clamoring to taste it. My mishti making skills are non-existent and in the backwaters where I live, there is no way I could buy her some from a desi (Bangladeshi more likely) store.

The craving for this unseen, untasted and yet supremely tempting treat has grown manifold since Grandma left and I am left with the daunting  task of producing it somehow. I figured it would not be too difficult to find a recipe and give it a shot - what's the worst someone (even if that person was me) could so with yogurt, sugar and cream anyway.

So I looked up some recipes and among the first things I saw was this dozen variations on the theme of Mishti Doi. Not exactly the simple two, three step solution I had in mind. When variation #1 (presumably the easiest) has instructions like "By trial and error you’ll find the correct temperature setting for your oven for the perfect Dahi ! If it's not setting up, increase the temperature a bit." I can already see my resolve to give this thing a shot dissipating rapidly. Cooking this thing needs one to be a clairvoyant almost !

Before giving up, I decided to look some more. Since I don't recall caramelized sugar being part of the Mishti Doi taste , I am a little suspicious of this "easy" recipe. One blogger's version looks quite promising  and the instructions are easy enough to follow - love the lack of ambiguity in particular. Not one to leave good enough alone and just cook the damn thing, I had to seek out a second opinion and there was no lack of them - there are 6920 entries per Google on the subject.

The one I checked out went into some technical detail that is bound to please the more sophisticated cooks but it's not something one such as myself should even bother with. If I know what's good for me and keep my limitations in mind, I would go with the three step formula and have J believe that it is Mishti Doi. But given the keen level of anticipation, I feel obliged to turn out something that is reasonably close to the real thing. My lack of competance at all things mishti (sweet) and the plethora of how-tos are not helping out.


Anonymous said...

Not one but several Bengali sweets makers in sweetshops have told me the thick yummy layer atop the alleged yoghurt is dalda & nothing but dalda.

They said " Where will you ever get pure milk nowadays ? Cows & buffaloes are routinely given oxytocin to produce milk & the newborn calves for making veal cutlets etc .....".

The flaky biscuits , scrumptious namkeens including 'dhakai parathas' have nothing but animal fat collected from abattoirs WITHIN India added in the name of shortening. Asia's largest abattoir is within India.

Maneka Gandhi has written a lot about the way flora & fauna in India are (sic) ' taken care of ' by the holier than thou Indians.

Anonymous said...

Dalda avidly embraced by lots of vegetarian hindus was discovered to be nothing but beef tallow. Wry irony being , the owner was a sanctimonious jain !

India Today in the early eighties reported this.

ejm said...

I can well imagine that mishti doi would cause a person to forget about important promises!

Our recipe (the "some technical detail" version) might look more complex but it's insanely easy to do.

It's essentially the same recipe as the "easy" three step recipe that you are suspicious of. The only real difference between the two is that we don't go through the step of caramelizing the sugar - the caramelized sugar is achieved with the addition of the dulce de leche. (I think it's WAY easier to boil a tin of sweetened condensed milk than it is to caramelize sugar in the bottom of a pan.)

To set the mishti doi, the temperature we put the oven at is about 100F.

Whatever recipe you choose to use, I do hope that your mishti doi turns out well. Everyone neeeeeds to have mishti doi at least once - and of course, once is never enough. :-)


P.S. We've made mishti doi in a clay vessel (found one in Chinatown) and we've made it in a pyrex bowl. Either container works perfectly well.

Heartcrossings said...

ejm - Thanks so much for your encouragement :) I feel a fresh burst of motivation to try making mishti doi. Once I do and I will report back here on how it went.

ejm said...

I'll be really interested to hear how it went for you.

Even if you don't decide to make mishti doi, it's worth going through the process, without the sugar, just to make your own yoghurt. Homemade yoghurt is WAY better than storebought (at least we think so.)


P.S. Here is our yoghurt recipe