Yoghurt, How to Make at Home?
How to Make Dahi or Curd
Yoghurt, often called Curd in India, is an integral part of Indian cuisine. It is eaten natural-as it is, made into Raitas, turned into drinks like (Lassi, Mattha ) and used in cooking, especially in a dish called Kadhi. I often use it in place of cream in Western cooking. Like me, most Indians make it fresh every day at home. Home-made yoghurt is free from stabilizers and other texture enhancing chemicals. Once you have learnt to make it, it is quite simple.
To make good yoghurt, milk must be boiled first and then cooled down. As I understand it, heating the milk to boiling point changes the protein structure of the milk that is needed to make Yoghurt. Homogenising does not achieve this. If this is not allowed to happen and you make yoghurt from just slightly warmed milk, the milk proteins do not coagulate and you get stringy yoghurt. Boiling the milk also gives the yoghurt a thick skin on top, so treasured by many Indians. My girls used to fight over who was going to eat the skin!
Things to remember when making yoghurt are: 1 The culture should be from live yoghurt. 2. It should be mixed well with the milk. 3. The mix should remain at around 110-115F throughout. If it goes below 90F, the culture will not grow. If it is kept too hot, over 125-130F, the culture will die. Either way, yoghurt will not set.
After making the first batch, remember to save a couple of tablespoons of fresh culture from each batch for use next time. Some families have cultures that have been going on for decades. In India, it is quite common to send a kid round to one of the neighbour's to get a bit of starter culture, known as 'jamun/jaman' in northern India. This is not the jamun/jambun fruit.
Makes 500 ml.
Edited February 2023
1 litre yoghurt container of shop bought yoghurt is quite good for making yoghurt. It fits perfectly in the Lakeland yoghurt maker.
1/2 litre or 1 pint milk of choice; fresh whole/semi-skimmed/skimmed, sterilised, UHT, powder or tinned milk. Skimmed or semi skimmed milk will not form the coveted skin on top.
1 full tbsp. starter culture or 'live' or 'bio' yoghurt
Boil the milk in a heavy bottomed pan and then simmer for a couple of minutes, picture 2. I tend to boil milk in a microwave milk boiler these days. Milk does not boil over in this. Heat on full power for 5-7 minutes.
If you want thick yoghurt from skimmed milk, stir in 2-3 tbsp. skimmed milk powder into it. Allow it to cool down to tepid/skin warm.
Add starter culture often called jaman or jamun in my family, and stir it in well.
Transfer to the pot you are using for making yoghurt and keep in a warm place for approximately 5-8 hours. I make it mostly in an electric yoghurt maker these days, often reusing the 1 litre yoghurt pots that you buy yoghurt in. In hot countries, table top is warm enough and it will usually be ready within 2-3 hours.
To test if it is set, gently tilt the pot, it will stay firmly in place.
Once it is set, it must be removed from the warm place and put in the fridge. If left at room temperature, the yoghurt will continue to mature and become too sour or mature quickly. It tastes best when chilled for a couple of hours
If you have made your yoghurt from skimmed or semi skimmed milk, let the yoghurt cool down, tilt the pot a little and spoon off the liquid that comes to the top. This will give you thicker yoghurt.
To make very creamy yoghurt for special occasions, use whole milk, add some double cream to the heating milk or stir in some milk powder. Indian will often leave milk on low heat for a while, to condense to desired amount.
You can use any of the following methods for making yoghurt
An electric yoghurt maker. This is a reliable method for cold countries.
A thermal casserole dish. Put some hot water at the bottom, place yoghurt pot on top and close the lid. If you have an ice box, you can use it the same way as a casserole.
Wrap the pot in a thick towel/small blanket.
The basic principle is that the temperature should remain to tepid warm for the bacteria to multiply.