Masala chaas is a summertime cooling, salty, spicy yogurt drink. It is perfect for hot weather and helps to beat the heat like nothing else. The masala gives it a salty, spicy taste and helps replenish electrolytes. The yogurt, along with the mint and cilantro, gives it a tangy coolness.
About this Recipe
As a kid, I was in charge of two things: chutneys and chaas. It was very common, especially on hot afternoons, for my family to gather and enjoy a cool glass of chaas together. On those days, it was my job to ensure it was ready. We also often had it as part of my favorite comfort food, khichdi chaas.
There are many ways to prepare chaas. I must have experimented with them all to arrive at this, my favorite. It combines a vaghareli chaas with a mint-cilantro chaas. I love the heat of the chili against the cooling mint and cilantro and the salty, tangy yogurt.
Yogurt – makes chaas, chaas. In India, we made fresh yogurt every night. Yogurt is an essential ingredient used all over India. It is a traditional way to make milk last longer. It is used as a marinade, as a base for sauces, eaten on its own, it is used for religious purposes, and, as here, used for drinks.
Ghee – traditionally, a vaghareli chaas has a vaghar with ghee and cumin poured over the top and whisked in. I like to serve my chaas cold. When you do that, the ghee creates solid chunks that I do not like. So I pour my vaghar into the blender and let the blender break the ghee down.
Ice and Water – traditionally, chaas is served in clay pots, which help cool the mixture even on a hot day. I blend ice with it to make the chaas cool. Take care not to add too much water. Chaas is thinner than lassi, but should not taste watered down.
Chaas is frequently served as an afternoon, refreshing drink. It is enjoyed across India, from the hot deserts of Gujarat to the more tropical regions of South India.
In Gujarat, we often drink it with bajri no rotlo. My favorite comfort food, khichdi chaas, is made by cooking rice and dal together, then pouring chaas over it. Chaas is also at home alongside a thali for a complete dinner or lunch.
- Be aware of yogurt and water balance. You don’t want to over-thin the yogurt. It should be drinkable and not thick like lassi, but you want to maintain the presence of the yogurt.
- It’s hard to mess up chaas. Have fun with it, and add whatever appeals to you.
- You can add ginger or dried ground ginger to the recipe
- You can add chaat masala or black salt
- If you don’t want to add the vaghar, you can leave the ghee out; just add a little toasted cumin directly in
- I have made this with regular Indian-style yogurt. If using Greek yogurt, add a little extra water (1/4-1/2 cup) to get the right consistency.
- If you don’t like mint or cilantro, you can leave one or both out
- Although not traditional, I think this would be good with dill
- Pink beet chaas – add a little beet to the blender to give it a nice pink color
Chaas will last about four days in the refrigerator. I like to make extra and keep it in a bottle to drink over several days. Remember to shake or stir it well before serving because it tends to separate.
Masala Chaas | Vaghareli Chaas
- 1 cup thick yogurt
- 1 ½ cups water
- 20 mint leaves
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp green chili
- ½ tsp ghee
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- Add yogurt, mint leaves, cilantro, salt and green chili to a blender.
- Make a vaghar by heating the ghee. Then add cumin seeds and let them sizzle until fragrant. Remove a small amount to set aside for garnish. Pour the rest into the blender.
- Blend until well mixed. Add water to thin out, blending again to combine.
- Pour into a glass and top with reserved cumin seeds to garnish.