Thursday, September 20, 2018

Spiced Yogurt (Morum Vellam)


When we traveled to India as a family, we landed in Cochin during the summer monsoon season. Torrential rains soaked the ground, and although black umbrellas were pulled out to protect us, our chappals were often engulfed in a wave of water. At night, lightening blazed across the sky as if competing with the candles that were lit when the electricity went out. Thunder erupted with the force of what felt like 1,000 tons of TNT, occasionally jolting me out of sleep.

Crush ginger and onions

The heavy rains were accompanied by highs of 90 degrees and oppressive humidity. At the time, no one had air-conditioning, and the muggy air, which moistened the back of my neck and lower back, was circulated around the room by high-powered ceiling fans.
 Add curry leaves_edited-1
No matter where we went, piping hot tea was offered to ward off the heavy-handed heat. It was combined with whole milk and a very generous quantity of sugar. Sari shops and jewelry stores handed it out in a ceramic mugs mid-way through a sale. Snack vendors poured the scalding drink from one steel cup to another to produce a froth before serving it to customers who they had beckoned with their rhythmic call. "Chai, chai, chai, chai!!!”

Stir ingredients

At some point, I’d start to complain about having to drink so much tea as it never seemed to quench my thirst and, worse yet, forced me to frequent the bathroom. In response, my parents would buy me a bottle of Thums Up or Campa Cola from a snack stand en route to a relative’s house. They would also stop the car for tender coconuts that had been harvested and scalped with a sharp machete for their fresh, rejuvenating water. Afterwards, my parents would eagerly scoop out the tender flesh, which giggled like a soft boiled egg. At the time, I thought they were crazy.


When I complained to my aunts about having to drink so much tea, they would make me a glass of sweetened lime juice or morum vellam (spiced yogurt). Both drinks were perfect for battling Kerala’s tropical heat. 

Morum vellam


Serves 2 to 4

Morum Vellam is a comforting drink any time of year. If you’re sensitive to heat, I suggest removing the seeds and ribs from the serrano pepper before adding it in.


1 cup organic low-fat yogurt
2 cups water
10 curry leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot or red onion
1 tablespoon roughly chopped ginger
1 small serrano pepper, sliced lengthwise - hot
3/4 teaspoon salt


Crush the onions and ginger using a mortar and pestle.

Put the yogurt and water in a blender. Blend them together until fully incorporated. Pour into a pitcher. 

Add the curry leaves, ginger, pepper, and salt. Stir together. 

Chill for 4 to 6 hours. 

Strain liquid to remove curry leaves, ginger, and pepper.
Advance purchase required!
Book your Chicago Food Tour today!
buy tickets at zerve
or call Zerve at (800) 979-3370