Malaiyo or Mallaiyo ( मलइयो in Hindi) is one of the hidden gem that is prepared only in Banaras (Varanasi) during winter season (from mid November to first week of March). Most of the food enthusiast see Banaras as city of Paan, Lassi, Chat and Sweets. But in narrow lanes of old Banaras, you get one of the most exclusive and exquisite sweet, which is being served by few vendors since ages.
Malaiyo or Mallaiyo is basically flavored milk foam/froth or cloud served in a small earthen bowl, garnished with Pistachios and Almonds.
The beauty of this winter sweet is in the texture of the froth or foam that just collapse or melt in your mouth giving your taste buds a nice treat. The the texture of foam is not like of a whipped cream, its very delicate, cloudy and frothy. The foam can stand only in low temperature during winters and that’s why its being sold till 11 AM in the morning.
However, these days you can see Malaiyo is being sold throghout the day in many new areas such as Gowdowlia, Sigra, Assi and Lanka. But the quality of Malaiyo is not at par with what you will get in Chaukhamba, Thatheri Gali areas of old Varanasi.
When I tasted these sweets in evening in the area that are not famous for Malaiyo, I could taste stiffness in the foam and froth which may because of trans fat (Hydogenated Oil) presence in it, which ensure that foam is steady throughout the day. So if you want to taste, authentic melt in mouth Malaiyo along with Saffron Milk you have to go to narrow lane of old Banaras, specifically Chaukhamba or Thatheri Bazaar.
So how Malaiyo is being made, it is indeed a secret and varies from vendor to vendor that sell it. However, as per my knowledge, it all begin a day before, in night when milk is boiled for a specified period in very large Iron Wok (Kadhai), then its left outside in open, overnight so that dew drops get deposited on the surface of milk initiating the process of foaming. Later, in morning the milk is flavored with Sugar, Cardamom and Saffron strands and hand churned to create the froth or foam. Its a hard process that take time and eventually almost all the milk gets converted in foam. Finally it is garnished with nuts, typically Almonds and Pistachios. This froth said to hold because of the dew and the low temperature in winter morning. This scrumption, delicate, melt in mouth Malaiyo is served in earthened clay cups.
For the best and the authentic Malaiyo, one has to visit Chaukhamba in Varanasi. Its a place you can reach by travelling inside the narrow lane of Thatheri Bazaar or Gali. As soon as you go inside the Gali, you will start seeing vendors selling Malaiyo, you can try any one of them, but for the best you have to go more inside and find Shri Gopal Mandir (Temple). And the shop at few meter away in front of Gopal Mandir sells the Best Malaiyo.
This shop is there for more than 100 years, its famous name is Markandey Sardar Shop but now managed by Bhaiya Laal Ji. Go there and ask for a cup of Malaiyo.
You will never forget the delicate, melt in mouth foamy texture of Malaiyo topped with nuts. Just dig into it and forget everything.
Once your cup is empty, the vendor will serve you the milk settled at the base to savor, and its rich with flavors of Saffron, Sugar and Cardomom.
Having Malaiyo is a totally memerzing experience and people of Varanasi wait for winter season to have this delicate dessert. Its not very famous in tourist circuit, probably because authentic Malaiyo is still sold only in a limited area of old Varanasi.
So next time. if you are planning to go to Varanasi in winter season, Add Malaiyo to your Bucket list along with Banarasi Chat and Sweet. Cheers!