Recipe for Bengali sweet shop style authentic Mishti Doi or sweet yoghurt

Recipe for Bengali sweet shop style authentic Mishti Doi or sweet yoghurt

Caramelised yoghurt dessert with a crème brûlée consistency

Mishti Doi
Mishti Doi Image Credit: Supplied/Ishita B.Saha

Mishti Doi, the Bengali sweet yoghurt set in an earthen pot, is a rich and creamy dessert that you can make at home easily and leave a sweet impact.

Being a Bengali comes with certain sweet baggage.

Our guests, when they come home, always expect me to serve them at least two of these dishes - any Bengali fish preparation and Mishti Doi, the epic sweet yoghurt.

While mastering the first has been quite easy, the latter has been more like studying for a doctorate - arduous long hours spent in studying the science of fermentation, the type of utensil to use and repeated recreations to arrive at the perfect consistency of the sweet yogurt. The sweet part is, now that I have mastered the technique and arrived at a recipe, which gives consistent result and a taste that is quite similar to how sweet yoghurt would taste in a typical Bengali sweet shop in Kolkata, there’s no looking back. Making the sweet yoghurt does require a bit of patience, multiple practice sessions and some hours of anticipation before it can be devoured, but it’s really worth the effort.

We lived in Dubai for more than two decades with a little stint in Frankfurt in between. In fact, our first home was in Sri Lanka. After all these years of global living, we have made friends belonging to various cultures. I feel that while most palates love the food originating from the subcontinent, they find the desserts overtly sweet. As we are settling down in Chennai, we are finding the city a melting pot too. Here too, people who have gathered from various states of India are curious about Bengali food, which mostly centres on fish preparations and sweets.

I began my Mishti Doi journey with a baked version of a recipe from the cookbook author Sandeepa’s popular blog Bong Mom’s Cookbook.

Later, I learnt a tweaked version of the same that our Dubai friend, Sumana, used to make. An exceptionally brilliant cook, she was almost on a mission to crack the recipes of desserts - both Bengali and beyond the borders of Bengal. The sweet yoghurt that I made following Sumana’s recipe went down extremely well amongst our family and friends. It was creamier and less sweet than Sandeepa’s recipe. I put it on the menu at various food events that I curated and hosted. Numerous comparisons were made to crème brûlée and sometimes cheesecake. It was only a matter of time before I started demanding an authentic recipe that I could only taste at a confectioner’s in Kolkata.

Homemade Mishti Doi in small earthen pots
Homemade Mishti Doi in small earthen pots Image Credit: Supplied/Ishita B.Saha

All along this sweet conquest, my very close friend Srikanth Seshagiri has been on speed dial. He’s got a close association with sweets, having brought one of Kolkata’s most popular traditional sweet and savoury shop Banchharam, to Bangalore.

A Tamilian born and brought up in Kolkata, Srikanth’s knowledge of Bengali sweets and savouries, is unparalleled. All our conversations always revolve around how sweets are made, especially various Bengali sweets and the importance of the ingredients and the technique that make Bengali sweets unique and different from other Indian sweets. I learnt how fresh buffalo milk is used for making Mishti Doi in all sweet shops in Kolkata. The result of which is a creamier and thicker sweet yoghurt than the ones made elsewhere in India, where sometimes cow milk is used. When buffalo milk was used, the sweet yoghurt turned out to be whiter in colour too.

So many aspects go into making of this famous sweet yoghurt. Earthen pots made in Kolkata and West Bengal are different from the ones made elsewhere in India. The clay used in making these pots results in a more porous variety that attributes to the level of absorption of moisture when the yoghurt is set.

Mishti Doi in a popular Bengali Sweet shop in Kolkata
Mishti Doi in a popular Bengali Sweet shop in Kolkata Image Credit: Supplied/Ishita B.Saha

Srikanth recalled how in the initial days when Banchharam had opened in Bangalore, buffalo milk flown in every day by the earliest morning flight, all the way from Howrah. This is where most of Kolkata’s sweet shops got their buffalo milk. Today, he sources buffalo milk from the adjoining states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where warmer temperatures and humidity help in producing milk with similar properties as is used in Kolkata sweet shops. The earthen pots however, are brought in from Kolkata, as they are more porous than the thick terracotta available in Bangalore.

The temperature of Kolkata averages around 30°C, and that is an ideal ballpark temperature for setting Mishti Doi.

For all of us who live around the world experiencing various levels temperatures and levels of humidity, how do we maintain all the conditions that are adhered to for making Mishti Doi as made in Kolkata? For an air-conditioned environment like Dubai, Srikanth suggested setting it by keeping it overnight inside an oven. My suggestion would be to set the yoghurt in an unglazed earthen pot.

The popularity of Mishti Doi originating from different places have assumed legendary proportions. Nabadwip, a city in Nadia district in West Bengal, is famous for its Lal Doi or red yoghurt. Lal Doi is made by boiling buffalo milk over a low flame for hours and this long burning reddens the colour of the milk. While the technique of how this red yoghurt is set in Nabadwip can be a story by itself, Srikanth shared a simple tip on how we could recreate a similar reddish tinge in our sweet yoghurt. Caramelising a bit of sugar and stirring it into the condensed milk while making sweet yoghurt did the trick in its appearance.

Red Mishti Doi
Red Mishti Doi Image Credit: Supplied/Ishita B.Saha

My homework was to learn about the sweet yoghurt made in Bogura, a city located in Bangladesh.

I watched YouTube videos on a loop of how yoghurt is made in Bogura. It was a spectacular experience - huge quantities of milk in giant kadais were boiled and then reduced in a wood fire hearth. It took more than an hour of stirring to reduce the milk, which was then set in clay pots on the ground around a charcoal fire pit.

While a yoghurt maker may provide the perfect solution to all the trepidations surrounding whether the yoghurt has set properly, nothing beats the happiness and excitement when you wake up to a Mishti Doi, perfectly set in an indigenous way.

Srikanth’s litmus test for a perfect creation is when you scoop out a big spoonful of Mishti Doi; only a concave impression should be left behind. Not a single trace of liquid should gather at the bottom of the clay pot. I am proud that I have started passing the test consistently a few times now when I appear for one! Here is a recipe for mishti doi.

Share your food stories with us at

This website stores cookies on your computer. These cookies are used to improve your experience and provide more personalized service to you. Both on your website and other media. To find out more about the cookies and data we use, please check out our Privacy Policy.