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When I hear the words “mitha dahi” or sweetened yogurt, I remember dainty little earthen pots with inviting dark beige yogurt served at, what I consider, one of the most pious places on earth—The Puri Jagannath temple.
I recall the quaint little shop by the temple serving the most luscious dessert I have ever tasted, replete with flavors that are blended with a sense of peace, a fresh smelling air and the earthy taste of the clay pot.
Those are primarily the very reasons I have been so hesitant to try replicating the dish at home.
Traditionally, in India, sugar is caramelized and then milk is added in. This mixture is then simmered over a low flame till a thick, creamier mixture is obtained. Once done, it is poured into earthen pots and left to ferment overnight.
Although, that utter creaminess of the earthen-pot yogurt still beats the modern version any day; the recipe here comes really close.
Last weekend we had friends over for dinner and I had prepared mitha dahi for them. I served the dessert with sliced peaches, and the mere combination of colors impressed my guests. But when I mentioned the name mitha dahi they found it less impressive. As, very rightly, put by our friend—for a decadent dessert, mitha dahi sounds somewhat underwhelming.
If I were to hear mitha dahi without previously having tasted it, I would imagine a dessert with sugar dissolved in yogurt. So we came up with names that probably work better like “shahi yogurt,” “peach-khand” … Although even those names don’t do full justice to a dessert that is rich, decadent and creamy in texture.
Jagruti Vedamati is a post-doctoral student at Stanford University.
PEACH MITHA DAHI
Steamed peach yogurt with a hint of cardamom exudes a distinct earthy aroma that makes the flavors marvellously unique. This is a quick three-ingredient dessert for those last minute cooks.
1 cup full fat yogurt
1 can of condensed milk
1 can of evaporated milk
1 tsp crushed cardamoms
2 chopped medium sized peaches
1 tsp pistachio crumbles
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, stir in the yogurt, condensed milk and evaporated milk. Sprinkle in the crushed cardamoms and the chopped peaches and mix well.
Pour the mixture into small greased baking dishes and place them in a large roasting pan.
Pour water into the roasting pan (about 1 inch upto the sides of the bowls). Make sure not to splash water into the yogurt bowls while transferring to the oven.
Note: I used earthen bakeware to bake and the yogurt had that earthiness flavor that is so typical of mitha dahi. I would recommend using earthen bakeware if you have it. Otherwise any other bakeware will work fine.
Place the roasting pan at the center of the oven and bake for 30 mins. After 30 minutes, the mixture should look set at the top. Take out the baked yogurt from the oven and leave it on the counter to cool. Once cooled, refrigerate the yogurt. It sets further when cold.
Serve with sliced peaches and pistachio crumble.
Substitute other seasonal fruits for the peaches or use homemade jam or jelly along with the fruits.