Love yoghurt? You must dig into a bowl of Bengal’s favourite lal doi.
Visit any supermarket today and you will find many different brands offering a variety of yoghurts. Greek, frozen, sweetened, dairy-free, the list goes on. But then much before this generation of foodies went gaga over yoghurt, there was the humble dahi being eaten with parathas, with sugar or gur on the top and even as mishti doi. Indians have a thing for dahi.
Love For Lal Doi
Bengal is best known for its creamy mishti doi that Bengalis love to the point that they can ditch ice cream to have a handi of doi. Another thing that is unique to Bengal's doi-eating population is their affinity for lal doi. Famous only in a few districts of the state, not many in the urban locales know about this sweet treasure.
First made in 1930 by Kali Das and his brother Hari Das, lal doi derives its name from its distinct reddish colour. Thick and sweet, lal doi comes sans any food colouring or additives. The Das brothers’ family sweet shop still exists at Phasitala, Nabadwip, in the Nadia district of Bengal. The secret of lal doi is not any ingredient but it lies in the way the doi is made.
Doi That Barely Falls Apart
The fatty texture is so thick that inserting a knife too doesn't break the doi or cracks up its surface. Available in clay pots, from 100 gms to 5 kgs, the lal doi is a status symbol for suburban Bengalis. They go the extra mile to ensure lal doi is served at family functions.
All In The Process
The lal doi is different from your usual mishti doi because to prepare it, up to 3 litres of pure buffalo milk is reduced by slow boiling on firewood to about one litre. The process of boiling alone lends the red colour, as it takes several hours. The next stage of fermentation also happens on a coal fire for long hours. Lal doi melts in your mouth without leaving a sugary taste.
Mrityunjoy from Hooghly district had launched its trademark lal doi about a decade ago. A laudable effort, but it still is as good as the original lal doi of Nabadwip that doesn't spoil for up to a week. No wonder, tourists pack it up to carry back home.
About Author: Satarupa B. Kaur has been writing professionally for a decade now. But, always on the go, she loves to travel, books, playtime with her toddler as she explores new places and food!