Saturday, October 20, 2012


When we lived here in the 1960s and 70s, our milk was delivered daily by a village doodhwalla, or milkman. These men would milk their water buffalo then walk miles into town from their villages carrying their metal containers of milk. Because the milk was so rich, they would sometimes water it down a bit at a local stream. The more well-to-do doodhwallas had mules, on which they would tie their milk containers. The sound of the mule bells was a constant, as the main road into town ran just below the school. Once our liter or two of milk was delivered, it needed to be boiled for 20 minutes to be sure it was bacteria-free. (All our drinking water was boiled like this, too -- no water filters available then.) If you've ever boiled milk on purpose or accidentally, you know it must be closely watched to avoid boiling over.

Once the milk was cooled, it was skimmed of the rich pure white cream. The cream was made into butter or, sometimes, whipped and served with dessert. Many people also used the cream directly on toast at breakfast -- wonderful with jam on toast or chapatis. The skimmed milk was used in tea and cooking. For drinking, we added Bournvita, a malt mixture, although we didn't drink it much.

Today, we still see the doodhwallas on Tehri Road. However, most of them are riding in Jeep-like vehicles loaded with the milk containers and a dozen or so people. A few are seen walking and only once in a great while is there a mule.

Milk can be bought at a dairy in town (we get our yogurt at one). It is in sealed plastic pouches, and must be boiled. We buy our milk in long-lasting boxes as shown below. We get double-toned milk, which means that skim powder and water are added during processing to lower the fat content. Taaza is approximately similar to 2% milk in the US. Fully skimmed is available, but more expensive. We use a fair bit -- milky chai in the morning and sometimes on cereal. (However, I prefer my meusli mixed with yogurt -- plain, never sweetened or flavored.)

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