Summer Beckons.. With a bowl of 'Neer Moar' Sorbet in Hand!
Northern India especially the region of the Punjab, is known for its Lassi, a rich creamy frothy concoction of fresh, home made yogurt churned up and served with a pinch of black rock salt, or a sweet version with sugar and sometimes a hint of rose water. There are anecdotes galore about how rural households in the Punjab buy washing machines for the sole purpose of whipping up industrial quantities of the beloved beverage. (BTW, Mango Lassi is not a well known beverage in India)
Fast forward a couple of hundred miles down south towards states like Gujarat & Maharashtra and you have the Lassi's low cal lite version, the Chaas. They often make up for the light version by generously serving it up with deep fried morsels of chick pea batter known as 'boondhi' (boondh is the term for drops in Hindi ).
Wend your way further down south and you enter the domain of the 'Neer Moar' (literally translates as 'watery buttermilk). It was a time honored tradition to place an unglazed earthern pitcher filled with this beverage outside on the porch so that weary travelers or passers-by could quench their thirst. Its considered a cardinal sin to deny water to anybody who asks for it.
Neer Moar is basically ultra dilute buttermilk seasoned with ginger, freshly squeezed lime, curry leaves and sometimes, a hint of green birds eye chili for a hint of heat. A generous pinch of sea salt completes the flavoring. I suppose the reason this beverage is so popular in summer is because of the added electrolytes that may be derived from the seasoning and the tiny shot of milk proteins from the buttermilk.
And then of course, there's MY version. Chilled neer moar is delicious, but a frozen treat with this homey favorite is unbeatable. It also turns out that it was nowhere as simple of freezing the regular Neer more into a popsicle. There is a crisp delicate flavor & texture to the drink and simply freezing it ends up handing you a popsicle thats all 'yogurty' on the top with a dull frozen piece of whey underneath. Not appetizing at all. A couple of tries and iterations later, I found myself with a perfect bowl of a granita like sorbet and the family found itself a new summer classic to call as a favorite!
Neer Moar Sorbet (makes 6 generous servings)
1 cup plain Non Fat Kefir
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup skim milk
For the seasoning:
1 sprig fresh curry leaves (the dehydrated/dried ones do not work well for this recipe)
2 tablespoon ginger extract*
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 a green serrano chile (optional)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon fresh lime zest.
* TO make ginger extract, grate a piece of ginger and squeeze out the liquid. Allow the liquid to settle and decant out 2 tablespoon of the liquid, discard the white starchy powder that remains at the bottom of the container.
Combine the ingredients for the seasoning, (except for the lime zest) , the Kefir, and sour cream in a blender and puree completely. Strain out into a bowl and taste for seasoning, discarding the curry leaf bits. Dilute with the skim milk and stir in the lime zest. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
In the meantime, Chill the container of your ice cream maker overnight. Mine uses those chilled containers that rotate on the base. If you have a different design, prep it as per your manufacturer's instructions.
Scoop the frozen mixture into a wide mouthed container and place into the freezer until its completely frozen. Scoop out into chilled bowls and serve as a stand alone treat or as a palate cleanser between courses in a formal Indian meal.