Buttermilk shouldn't be entirely off your plate. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)
People usually drink buttermilk or chaach on hot summer days but tend to avoid it when there is a nip in the air. So is it safe to include a glass of buttermilk to your diet during winter? The sour, creamy beverage consumed in many parts of the world is prepared by blending together a few spoons of natural yoghurt/curd and water. It contains no butter and is low in fat and calories, making it a healthy drink. In fact, what it contains are many vitamins and minerals. Often, spices such as cumin powder, pepper, ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and coriander leaves are crushed and added to the mixture to enhance its taste and therapeutic benefits.
The spices in chaach are excellent digestive aids that prevent indigestion and excessive burping. Yoghurt is loaded with probiotics, which encourage the growth of healthy gut flora which helps improve everything — from your digestion to your immunity — even in winter.
Here are the benefits of chaach or buttermilk
High in vitamins and low in fat
Being a good source of calcium and vitamins, it can be included in the diet on a regular basis. Along with calcium, buttermilk is also high on proteins and carbohydrates. Low in fats, buttermilk contains good bacteria called the lactic acid bacteria which helps in improving the body's immunity. It is vitamin dense and hence, very healthy.
Cool off after a spicy meal
Did you know that chaach is categorised as a sattvic food in Ayurveda? If you suffer from acidity after eating a heavy or spicy meal, drink a glass of chaach instead of popping an antacid. This yoghurt-based drink is both delicious and healthy, making it the perfect accompaniment to your meals. It’s also a great way to cool off the stomach.
Acts as a cleanser
Butter milk detoxifies the body and cleanses the intestines, relieves constipation and helps replenish intestinal flora. Since it has less fat compared to milk and is rich in calcium, potassium and vitamin B12, it makes for an apt drink.
It is easy to digest, has astringent properties and a sour taste which helps improve digestion and alleviates the feeling of puffiness. It is a natural treatment against swelling, irritation and digestive disorders, gastrointestinal ailments, spleen maladies, anaemia and lack of appetite.
As over 90 per cent of buttermilk is water, its consumption helps to maintain the water balance of the body. It is absorbed slowly from the intestines as its contents are mostly combined with proteins. It is better to drink buttermilk than any other flavoured drink. Though fermented buttermilk is sour to taste, but biologically is very nutritive for the human body and tissues.
Alternative for milk-intolerant people
Buttermilk is easy to digest and is a good option for people who cannot tolerate lactose.
Should you have it during winter?
Considering the nature of buttermilk, it is apt to consume it in the morning with breakfast or after lunch during winter as it has a buffering action (resist the changes in pH value on the addition of small amount of an acid). It is better to avoid it at night during dinner. Buttermilk with roasted cumin (jeera) in a thin consistency makes for a good appetiser.
However, you may want to avoid chaach in the following situations:
*For those who want to gain weight or for malnourished children. For them, curd is a better option because it is more nutrient dense.
*For people who are on a fluid-restricted diet but need proteins, such as those who have kidney problems or are on dialysis.
Here is a recipe that you can try
1 1/2 cups - Yogurt
3 cups- Water
1tsp- Mustard seeds
15 no - Curry leaves
2 to 3 no - Green chillies, chopped
1tsp - Finely chopped ginger
Salt to taste
A pinch of asafoetida
*In a large bowl or jug, whisk yogurt and water together.
*In a small pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds start to splutter, add the curry leaves, chopped green chillies, ginger and asafoetida. Heat only for about 30 seconds or so, until the spices become aromatic. Take it off the heat and stir into the chaach. Add salt to taste, and serve chilled. Stir before serving. For a more healthy twist, you can also blend in pieces of beetroot.