Bhapa Doi is ‘the most’ requested recipe from our readers.
I could have never imagined, a dish as simple as bhapa doi, something that I have made umpteen times and have seen being made at home from childhood, could have such a pull. I grew up in Port Blair, a place in the 80s and 90s, devoid of much ‘mainland’ influence, we islanders were deprived of a lot of food and products available in Kolkata or any of the big metros in the country. Other than the two months of summer holiday in Kolkata, rest of the time we had to rely on home cooked food by Ma and my aunts.
Bhapa doi had always been and still is, the pet dessert of my Mishti Kakima (on one my aunts). Being in a joint family, work was divided amongst the members and when there were guests, it was always my Mishti Kakima who made the desserts. I have so many memories of her making bhapa doi. It was quick, easy and brought back memories of mishti doi and the guests always loved it.
Bhapa Doi is different from mishti doi
Do not confuse bhapa doi with mishti doi. They are both very different. Mishti doi is a variation of curd but it is set sweet. Whereas bhapa doi, literally means, steamed yogurt. I have seen a lot of people struggling to set curd at home. I remember Ma saying that ‘shobar hathe bhalo doi boshe na’, meaning even if you follow the process correctly, with some people, the curd doesn’t set. Sometimes it becomes quite sour too. I have perfectly set curd, while I was in Pune. But here, I have Ashok and he makes the perfect doi. Mishti doi is even harder. Perhaps that is the reason people do not make it at home and rely of the scores of Mishtir dokan in the locality.
I did try setting mishti doi once while I was running a restaurant called Seasonings in Pune. We had planned a Bengali food festival and wanted to serve mishti doi. I did not get the usual terracotta pot for the doi but got a glazed pot. I followed a recipe from a commis chef from our other restaurant Beach Shack, who had previously worked at a mishtir dokan. But the mishti doi did not set on the D Day. I believe, a glazed terracotta pot doesn’t work. So the next easy and quick alternative was bhapa doi. Bhapa doi is easy to make and the recipe never fails. The taste of bhapa doi is closer to a cheese cake than mishti doi.
This is a two ingredient dessert
You do not need a great many ingredients to make this dessert. If you want the taste closer to mishti doi, then all you need is two ingredients- hung curd and condensed milk. If you want to improvise and add flavours, then you will need more ingredients. There can be nolen gur bhapa doi, mango bhapa doi (very popular in summers), saffron bhapa doi and many more. You can jazz up bhapa doi with some nuts or silver leaf, flavour it with cardamom and more. Do what you like but I like my virgin bhapa doi.
Are you looking for an instant dessert recipe?
By instant I mean, if you have the ingredients with you, it takes under ten minutes to make bhapa doi. There are various processes of making bhapa doi. You can make it in the microwave. You can make it in a steamer. You can make it in the oven. Kakima used to make it in the pressure cooker and I had learnt from her. Having said that, the microwave is my best friend now. The time varies with the method of cooking. In a pressure cooker, it takes about fifteen minutes. In an oven, about 30 minutes. A steamer would take about 20 minutes. A microwave takes one minute per bowl or a maximum of 5 to 6 minutes, if it is a large bowl. The outcome is the same either ways. Hence I prefer a microwave.
The critical point for making bhapa doi is how long you have strained the curd or yogurt. Shop bought yogurt or set at home curd, either ways, you have to hang it in a muslin cloth for at least a couple of hours and drain off any liquid.
Even an hour of draining the water and then squeezing any water out of it is essential to make it creamy. The next step is thoroughly whipping the curd and then adding condensed milk and incorporating it. If you want to add any flavour, do it or else simply pour this into ramekins, terracotta pots or a tiffin box and steam it. You have to use a water bath for all of the cooking techniques. Once done, you can serve it immediately but for best results, keep it in the refrigerator and let it cool down and set properly.
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