मख्खन or Cultured Butter..it is all about the nostalgia!


Nostalgia is defined as  pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again. When I moved to the US I realized there are so many such things that make me nostalgic and funnily a lot of them were related to food. Food that was made for festivals, a dish mom prepared specially for my birthday, a visit to the farm and eating something farm fresh and the list goes on.  One such dish is the ‘White Butter’ or मख्खन as we call it in Hindi.  This is how butter was made in India before we started getting Amul which is an equivalent of the salted butter we get here in the US. It is one of those things that makes everything better in life. Serve it on a hot Jowar (Sorgum) bhakri, or eat it on a piece of toast, it just makes everything tastes better, and I think that is why it is the favorite of  Lord Krishna. He was fondly called a butter thief (मख्खन  चोर ). He would steal it and distribute it among the cowherds who would tend to the cows.

Fresh home made cultured butter

Fresh home made cultured butter

Since we do not get White butter here in the US, I decided to make it at home. I haven been making it for the last 2 years and loving it.


1 quart Best quality heavy cream 3 tbsp yogurt with live bacteria


Heat the cream to 110 F. Let it cool down to 100F, do not let the temperature fall below that. Add the yogurt and mix well. Now you want to keep this mixture in a warm place so the bacteria get to work and the cream sets well. Once you have the set cream, it is time to churn till you get the butter. The butter will float on top and you would have buttermilk that is equally yummy. There are a couple of  tips I would like to share: 1. It helps adding a few ice cubes to help to butter to start forming a ball. 2. You can also strain the mixture to get all the buttermilk out of the butter. My mom also ‘washes’ the butter with cold water to remove any tart buttermilk from it. You want to wash it till you get pretty much clear water. white makkhan collage I love eating fresh butter with a whole grain unleavened bread, Bhakri.  Growing up Bhakri was the bread for dinner each night. Made from whole ground sorghum, it is my most favorite bread on this earth. I will write a post on it soon. Incidentally I came across an article in Food Wine on this very topic, here is the link to it.


I always make Makkhan the old fashioned way, culture the cream and then churn it with ‘mathani’. Since today I had to make it on a large scale I used Vitamix, and it was so easy. The jury is still out if the texture of the makkhan is the same but it sure took 1/10th of the time to make.

Makkhan in Vitamix


9 responses »

  1. Great job 🙂

    The other reminiscence of pre-Amul days, I have is, we used to have cow in our house in Fazilka, Ambala & Jalandhar. And my mom would make Dahi (Yogurt), in a Terracotta Vessel (Chaati) from this cow’s fresh milk, night time & next day morning, churn it in the same vessel using the cold water from the Terracotta vessel (Gharda). Yumilicios!! every day & the exotic “Chaati di Lassi”, thin like water & unique sourish taste, we used to drink in variety, including fresh “gud shakkar” & “kewda” (Orris water) or with rose syrup or Rooh-Afza syrup or just plain salt, roasted ground Jeera or even mixing with Poodina chutney.

    I tried to duplicate, using the regular milk here, but did not get any butter, instead with all that ware & ice added, I heated the whole liquid and made sour Paneer, which is probably used to make “Shrikhand”.

    The fallacy in USA is that sometimes market limits availability of certain products. Like Heavy Cream, which has more content of fat, is NOT available in certain parts of the country. The product that is available is Heavy WHIPPING Cream. If you google what is heavy whipping cream, it is heavy cream with added materials that helps in whipping to fluffy textures for decorating cakes [one of the biggest culinary industry]. I got that cream once from COSTCO and I had to device a mathematical iterative process to EXTRACT ghee out of it directly (without putting my hands on the butter).

    ANYONE TRYING TO FOLLOW THE PROCESS Anagha has written here, please google & find who sells HEAVY CREAM (not heavy Whipping cream), it may cost more than HWC, but that is what your starting point should.

    Same is true, if someone tries to experiment with my Mom’s way, is to find Un-Pasteurized or Raw cows milk and then proceed.

    BTW in USA, Whipped Butter (in tubs) is available in national stores, like Safeway. This one tastes just like the Makhan we have been used to eat, pre-Amul days.

    Last thoughts . . . but the best is the one made yourself, the way ANAGHA or my mom made . . .
    The remembrances . . .!!


    • AShwini, thank you so much for reading the post and taking the time to leave a feedback. You are right, Heavy cream is the preferred ingredients however since it is not easily available, I use heavy whipping cream.

      I too remember fondly when Mom would set dahi in earthen pots. All my siblings and I would get our own special small pot full of dahi with thick malai..those were the days.


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  3. I was so confused whether to put warm water or cold water during churning. One website has mentioned warm water. A couple of questions I have though, should the yogurt be at room temperature when we start churning? Or can it be taken out of the fridge and churned immediately.

    And when using Vitamix, do I churn at low speed and also add ice cubes?

    Thanks so much!


    • I use cold water since it helps the fat to come together. I keep the yogurt at room temp and add ice water while churning. Cold yogurt will work ok but you might need fewer ice cubes/water. Vitamix, churn at a high speed for good 2 mins with ice cubes.


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