Reading Time: 4 minutesSHERYL DIXIT on doing it with dahi!
It’s hard to find an Indian household (or most Aussie households for that matter) who don’t have this essential foodstuff in their homes. Yoghurt is a part of our diet, and has been for ages, perhaps even before the legends of Krishna kanhaiya, the makkhan chor came into existence. From being a part of traditional Indian marriage ceremonies at which the priest advises that yoghurt’s cooling properties will help calm down the couple in times of stress, to sweetening a spoonful of yoghurt and feeding it to a person on the threshold of an important event, like before an exam, taking a journey or going to a job interview, yoghurt is very much a part of our lives. More recently, Shahrukh Khan’s Ra.One may not have impressed, but even the more critical among us will have to admit that the scene in which he pours yoghurt over his Chinese food and slurps it up is decidedly hilarious. For my mum-in-law, a progressive Kannadiga, every meal still ends with her curd-rice combo.
Research has shown that yoghurt is packed with microscopic bacteria, unseen warriors that are essential for good health. It is a good source of Vitamin B (including folacin) and phosphorous. It provides lactic acid which aids protein, calcium and iron assimilation. Traditionally, yoghurt is recommended as a cure for a varied list of ailments, from diarrhea to reviving the digestive tract after a course of antibiotics.
Most Indian households prepare yoghurt at home; however, I have sadly failed in my experimentation here in Australia. No matter what I do and which milk I use, no matter if I boil it or not, all on the advice of well-meaning sources, I’ve come to accept the fact that homemade yoghurt is something that eludes me. However, the impressive number of brands now available in Indian shops is heartening, and it’s pretty much a permanent place in my fridge.
Yoghurt is available in lots of textures and flavours, from thick Greek varieties to a plethora of flavours, diet options like low-fat, low-sugar, fruit added, etc. However, the ‘household’ version of yoghurt is the plain, slightly less creamy variety which can be used not just as an accompaniment, but also in cooking. Here are some recipes which indicate just how well yoghurt complements a range of dishes, both sweet and savoury.
Lemon curd tarts
My friend Nora is an absolute master at preparing these yumilicious tarts which are a perfect teatime snack or an anytime dessert. Unfortunately her recipe has only been revealed to the elite few, and this is the closest I can get to the original.
For the pastry
1¾ cups plain flour
¼ cup icing sugar mixture
125g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg, lightly beaten
Lemon curd filling
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup lemon juice
125g butter, cubed
For the pastry, mix the flour and icing sugar together, adding butter and mixing to form a fine crumb-like consistency. Add the egg and gently mix until it forms a dough. Place the dough on a clean flat surface and roll out until it forms a circular disc. Next, carefully wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll out the dough on a sheet of non-stick baking paper to about 3mm thick. Cut the pastry to fit into tart tins, and line.
Cover each pastry lined tart with non-stick baking paper, and fill with dry rice or pastry weights. Bake for 15 minutes, remove weights and paper and bake a further 10-15 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely. If this method is too time-consuming, simply use frozen sweet shortcrust pastry tart cases, available at your local supermarket.
For the filling, place the eggs and sugar together in a bowl and whisk gently over a saucepan of simmering water until sugar dissolves. Stir in lemon juice and butter and whisk constantly for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Do not allow the mixture to get too hot or boil.
Once the mixture has cooled, spoon into prepared tart cases and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. You can also scatter the top with blueberries or a cut half of a strawberry, for a more fruity effect.
Made in different forms throughout India, curd curry or kadhi, is a popular accompaniment to enliven a meal of dry subji and rice/roti
1 cup/200 gms yoghurt
1 cup water
1/3 tsp mustard seeds
1/3 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chilli
4-5 curry leaves
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp besan/gramflour
Pinch of turmeric powder
1 tbsp cooking oil
Salt to taste
1 tbps fresh coriander chopped fine
Mix together the yoghurt and water, to make a smooth consistency, removing all lumps. Keep aside. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed vessel or kadhai. Add the mustard seeds and once they crackle, add the jeera, red chilli, cloves and curry leaves and fry for ten seconds. Next, add the garlic and fry until slightly crisp. Add the besan powder and turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds on low flame. Gently add the curd mixture, stirring continuously. Add salt as desired. Continue stirring on low flame until fully mixed, taking care that the yoghurt doesn’t curdle. Remove from flame, garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot.
Frozen strawberry yoghurt
The great thing about this recipe is that it can be adapted to suit fruit like blueberries, plums, cherries or any other stone fruit.
1 can light condensed milk
500g tub low-fat Greek yoghurt
Roughly chop half the strawberries and whizz the rest in a food processor or with a stick blender into a purée. In a big bowl, stir the condensed milk into the puréed strawberries then gently stir in the yogurt until well mixed. Fold through the chopped strawberries. Scrape the mixture into a loaf tin or container, close tightly with the lid and freeze overnight, until solid. Remove from the freezer about 10-15 mins before serving the frozen yoghurt. The mixture keeps for up to 1 month.