Yogourt (Curd/Dahi)

Good morning everyone,

Today I’m going to tell you how to make a staples of Panjabi food – curd (yogourt).  For curd, you need to have a starter.  Once you make your first batch of curd, you can continue using it as the starter for later batches, assuming that you are making it so that you have a daily supply.  I used a natural, flavour free, fruit free full cream yogourt.  I also use full cream milk, as you will find that this makes the best curd.  Skim or low fat milk just don’t work the same and in fact, skim milk is unlikely to set into curd.

The process for both is fairly simple.

Curd will play a big roles in many of the recipes to come.  You can buy yogourt in most supermarkets but there’s nothing like fresh, homemade yogourt.  If you are going to use a commercial yogourt in the Indian recipes here, use an unflavoured, gelatin free, balkan style (not Greek) yogourt.

Curd

Ingredients
1 L of milk to 1 tsp of starter

Method
Bring your quantity of milk to a boil and then let it simmer for about 15 minutes on the lowest possible temperature.  Stir the pot occasionally to ensure the milk does not burn or begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.  I use a non-stick pot for this but stirring is still required.  Bring the starter to room temperature while you are doing this.  Allow the boiled milk to cool to just above room temperature.  Then add the starter mixing it in thoroughly.  Leave the mixture out, covered, in a warm place for 8 to 10 hours (in our climate.  In hotter climates the time will be shorter) to allow it to ferment.  Don’t worry the milk has now been homogenized (likely for the second time) and will stand up to stay out for that time period.

Tips
Full cream milk will make a thicker curd,  1% or skim milk will not likely ferment properly and set into curd.  I use 3.25% which is the highest fat content milk available where I live.  Fresh milk in Panjab is typically some 7 – 9% cream, some even higher.  3% will make a reasonable curd.

Watch the milk carefully as you bring it to a boil.  It will go from barely bubbling to overflowing the pan in the blink of an eye.

The yogourt will keep well in the refrigerator for more than a week, in an airtight container.  I typically use the last two teaspoons or so to make the next batch.

Your curd may separate a little into curd and whey.  (Little Miss Muffet is now running through my head.  Anyone else?  Anyone??)  This isn’t a problem and happens in most natural yogourt.  Simply stir it back together before using or drain the whey off for an even thicker curd.

Do not add the starter to hot milk.  It will just curdle the milk and fermentation will not happen.  Wait for the milk to come back down to warm or room temperature. You may have to experiment a little with the temperature of the milk because it will depend as well on the temperature and humidity of the room where it is being kept.

But why Preet??  Why are you making yogourt at home when you can just buy it in the store?

My friends are curious and funny and awesome.  I love them.

a.  Many commercial yogourts use gelatin as a thickener, especially the flavoured ones.  Gelatin is made from the collagen collected from a variety of animal by products.  So, it’s not allowed in my diet.

b.  Some commercial yogourts also use added sugars, which I’m trying to keep out of my diet.  The only sugars in my milk are naturally occurring lactose.

c.  Fresh yogourt tastes better and is pretty easy on the pocketbook.  There is not much of a cost difference.  Also, while I was living in Northern Canada the milk in the markets here tends to be fresher than the yogourts.  I got tired of buying packages of yogourt that were set to expire in a few days.  I don’t know if it’s like that in other places but that’s been my experience in the north.

d.  I like making everything from scratch.  It’s enjoyable to me.  Also, by making things from natural, basic ingredients I can avoid all of the other names for gelatin, rennin, tallow and other products which companies use.  They know there are people who cannot or will not eat these things so sometimes they use alternate names for them (i.e. monostearate, an emulsifier that is most often sourced from the breakdown of animal fat).

Until next time,

Peace and love,
Himmat

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