I am a tea drinker. Unusually for a South Indian, I do not drink coffee. Yet I can make a good cup of yard coffee–with the decoction made in a stainless filter and some freshly boiled milk. A foam is created by pouring the coffee from a narrow tumbler into a wide mouthed vessel and both fit into your palms easily…this is called the dabbara and tumbler.
Both tea and coffee are grown in the South of India on the slopes of the hills. Coffee has been absorbed into the diet of the Tamil Brahmin community. In fact this is considered to be the land of filter coffee. Coffee drinking here is an important social custom, and the brewing process is taken very seriously. The local coffee is called Madras/Chennai Filter Coffee, and is unique to the region.
Gourmet Arabica or Peaberry coffee beans are roasted and ground up, chicory is added to enhance the flavour. The powder is placed in the upper vessel of a special filter with two compartments. Hot water is poured and the decoction flows through tiny holes into the lower vessel.
This strong and fragrant is added in tiny dollops to a tumbler with three quarters full of hot, scalding milk and some sugar. It is then foamed up by transferring it from the tumbler to a wide mouth, small vessel called the dabbara pulling it into a yard long length of fluid dexterously transferred from one dish to another.
Tea drinking is also a custom that has been adapted into our diet. Tea is brewed in water and lots of milk and then strained. Cardamom and ginger are added at times for flavour. My favourite however is Earl Grey!
Buttermilk or liquefied yoghurt with salt and a dash of asafoetida and curry leaves is a great thirst quencher. We also have a molasses based drink with dried ginger powder and cardamom that is served in the hot months of summer as a thirst quencher.