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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homemade Yogurt / Perugu

A simple breakfast - Strained / hung yogurt, kiwis, walnuts drizzled with honey.

Milk, yogurt and ghee - this trio of dairy products have a special place in Indian kitchen and are consumed on a daily basis for their health benefits. A freshly made batch of yogurt appears daily at the dinner table and eaten at the end of a meal either plain or along with rice for its digestive & cooling properties. Also it helps to soothe the palate after a spicy meal. Besides, yogurt can be a star in many dishes like these ones. BTW, yogurt goes by the name curd in India. It is perugu in Telugu, mosaru in Kannada, thayir in Tamil and dahi in Hindi.
Preparing yogurt at home is another basic and essential step in Indian kitchens and making yogurt is child's play, literally. Homemade version tastes better, is economical and free of unwanted chemicals and sugars. Using a good starter / yogurt culture and letting the yogurt set in a warm place are the only two points to be taken care of while making yogurt at home. The type of starter determines the quality of your yogurt and so, choosing a good starter is the key for making delicious yogurt. Starter is nothing but a few spoons of fresh yogurt. In India, good starters can be borrowed from neighbors or even store bought yogurt sometimes taste good and can be used. I have learnt from experience that when you live abroad, it may be difficult sometimes to get Indian style yogurt with that characteristic texture and taste. When you move out of the country, you will realize how you cherish those small things that you take granted back home. :(
For a true desi style yogurt experience, try your desi neighbors / colleagues, restaurants or even temples that has food service. They would be happy to share some yogurt with you. In the recent years, I have noticed that Indian grocers are carrying "desi dahi". I have tasted it but don't consider it as a substitute for an authentic Indian style yogurt but it is better than the sticky ones sold in supermarkets.

Making yogurt is the last thing probably an Indian wife does each night so that she has a fresh batch of yogurt to serve at lunch the next day. Preparation of yogurt is a simple chore done everyday without giving much thought to it. In India, generally full fat cow / buffalo milk is bought fresh each morning and boiled before consuming since it is unpasteurised. Excess milk is bought than needed for tea/coffee preparations and the leftover milk is used to prepare yogurt.
Yogurt preparation is actually a simple and quick process. All you need is milk and a couple of spoons of yogurt. Any milk will do - fatfree, low fat or full fat milk. I usually just heat about 4 cups of milk in the microwave for about 4 - 5 minutes since I use pasteurised, fatfree milk. And below is the way how it is done in India normally.
How much milk you need depends upon how much yogurt you would want to make. Just rinse the pan you are going to use to boil milk and add milk to it. This is a small step I follow to let the milk not scorch. Start heating milk on low flame in a sauce pan / non stick pan suitable for stove top cooking. Usually a steel vessel is used in India for this job. Remember to stay around when you are heating milk. If heated on high flame, you will end up with a scorched milk and also there is the possibility of milk boiling over the stove and that means a messy stove to cleanup. After a few minutes, you will notice that a thin layer of cream starts forming on the top. The milk starts bubbling and boiling over. At this point, either you can turn off the stove or simmer a few minutes to get a thick layer of cream.

Do you see the cream layer on top? Now wait until the milk becomes lukewarm. For about 4 cups of milk, I add about 1 - 2 tsp of yogurt / starter / live culture. Add a small piece of dried red chili, or a piece of green chili or a few peppercorns to the milk to ensure that yogurt is set fast. This is an optional step but I usually follow it.

Set in a warm place to set. The weather determines how quick your yogurt sets. On hot days, it sets quickly and also turns sour quickly if left at room temperature. If it is really cold like here in Chicago where the temperatures go below zero mark during fall & winters, the yogurt takes more than two days to set if left at room temperature and tastes not so good. During cold weather, I usually leave it overnight in my oven with the light on so that I will have my yogurt ready by morning. Refrigerate it until use or else it will go sour.

1. If you want to have strained yogurt or a thick yogurt to make shrikhand or other desserts , pour the yogurt in a cheese cloth or thin cotton cloth, tie up into a bundle and put it in a colander to drain. Keep a bowl underneath to catch the drips. Place the colander and bowl in a refrigerator to avoid yogurt going sour.

2. If you want to have a healthy drink on hot days, add a cup of water to a cup of chilled yogurt. Churn it for a few seconds until you get an uniform consistency, add a pinch of salt and drink. This is called butter milk in India though the original buttermilk is the one leftover after churning the cream to produce butter.

Here I drained the fatfree yogurt slightly and served it with kiwi pieces, walnuts and honey.

This is going to be my Day 7 post under "Preps & Preserves" during BM#11. Check here to know what my fellow marathoners are cooking today.



The Pumpkin Farm said...

lovely all steps and pictures

rajani said...

Didn't know about the chili bit, will try it sometime. Nice clicks

Priya said...

Once one of my friend passed this addition of redchilli or greenchilli tips while making yogurt, well done Suma,its been a long i tried yogurt at home..

ANU said...

wow nice post dear..
SYF&HWS - Cook With SPICES" Series - CARDAMOM (Dec 5th to Jan 5th)

Sumi said...

nice tip out there about the red chilly, will try it out next time

Gayathri Kumar said...

Never heard of red chilly in curd. Thanks for the tip. Very interesting write up...

Pavani said...

Never thought of just microwaving the milk instead of boiling--Thanks for the tip. Didn't know green chili can be used as well. I usually use red chili.

Kalyani said...

oh wow ;-) didnt know that tip of adding pepper / peppercorns to set well. I was aware of a few grains of rice to set them well !

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