Learning Tempering with Buttermilk

by Pritya Books on November 25, 2011

There is an ancient folklore which says, he who has no mother, for him, buttermilk is his mother. It nurtures us & cools our digestive system. Curd rice or buttermilk with rice are recommended when one is unwell. In sunny hot summers, there is nothing more satisfying than a pot of cool buttermilk.

At the London Book Fair in 2008, we made a presentation on Indian Cooking & Tempering with a few recipes, including buttermilk. Buttermilk is nothing but churned & diluted curd to which salt & cumin powder may be added. This is absolutely ready to drink, but when tempered spices are added into this buttermilk as seen in the recipe below, it becomes an even greater storehouse of taste & nutrition.


  • Buttermilk – churned and seasoned with salt
  • Cumin powder – 1tsp
  • Chilli powder – a pinch
  • Oil – 2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • Carom seeds – 1 tsp


  1. Take a pitcher of cool, churned buttermilk. Season with salt, cumin powder and a dash of chilli.
  2. First, pour 2 tsp oil in the wok and allow it to warm up.
  3. Once it is hot enough, put in ¼ tsp mustard seeds & allow them to splutter.
  4. Next, add a tsp each of fenugreek and carom seeds and lower the flame.
  5. Keep stirring so that the fenugreek doesn’t burn. As it browns,add just ¼ tsp cumin seeds & a pinch of asafoetida powder.
  6. Switch off the flame and pour this into the buttermilk.
  7. Serve chilled on a warm summer afternoon.

To enjoy a folktale about buttermilk, see our post on our tribute blog

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