I LOVE yogurt! It was introduced to me when I was an adolescent and I admit that I had a hard time getting used to it – why would I get my calcium and healthy vitamins from a tart tasting dairy product when I could drink chocolate milk? I guess you can say that yogurt was an acquired taste. But eventually it won me over and has become a staple of my vegetarian diet.
Benefits of Yogurt
When milk ferments into yogurt, 40% of the lactose becomes lactic acid, which is easier than milk to digest. As well, a portion of yogurt contains more calcium than the same portion of milk. Studies also show that vitamin B complex is an important nutrient for the female reproductive system and since yogurt is rich in these vitamins, it is highly recommended for women.
Greek yogurt has become a popular choice in recent years due to its thick and creamy consistency and higher than average protein content. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is launching a pilot program that could place Greek yogurt in school cafeterias across the country as a protein (or meat) alternative. Good choice!
Many years ago, my uncle, a food scientist, taught me how to make my own yogurt; his method was simple, but my results tended to vary. In fact, my final attempt using his method was an unqualified disaster. However, I have taken it up again and, after a few false starts, have had great success using an adapted version of this method, posted by Marisa at Food in Jars, a blog dedicated to canning and preserving.
Cooking with Yogurt
As much as I love a creamy, fruity Chobani for a low-cal snack or an easy-peasy breakfast, traditional Indian yogurt, commonly referred to as “curds” or “dahi,” is (in my opinion) the best type for use in cooking. It’s also delicious to eat straight from the dish. Have you ever eaten something super-spicy and tried to cool your throat with a gulp of water and found that it only made the situation worse? Next time try a mouthful of yogurt to cool you down – works every time!
My husband (the miles-better cook in our family) has a favorite recipe for a wonderful savory soup called Kadhi. Mark’s recipe is sourced from this YouTube video, but I have transcribed it here, to offer a printable version.
Vrat ki Kadhi
- 1 cup whisked yogurt
- 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 7-8 curry leaves*
- salt to taste
- 1 cup water
- 3-4 cloves
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp ginger-chili paste (which you can make in the blender with chopped fresh ginger, chopped fresh chilis and a little water)
- 2 tbsp amaranth flour
- fresh coriander (cilantro) for garnish
In a large bowl add the yogurt, amaranth flour, salt to taste, sugar, and ginger-chili paste. Add the water and whisk ingredients together. Heat a large pot and add the ghee. When ghee melts add cloves and cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the curry leaves and mix well. Add the yogurt mixture, stir, and bring to a boil. Once boiled, it is ready to serve in bowls, garnished with fresh coriander.
Kadhi is delicious on it’s own or with a side dish of simple cooked rice, chapati (flat bread), or fried vegetable pakoras.
*Curry leaves are the only ingredient in this recipe that may be hard to locate if you don’t live near an Indian grocery, but they can be purchased online.
And for dessert:
Mango Lassi Fizz
Combine in a tall glass 1/2 cup of plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of fresh or canned mango pulp. Mix well, then top off the glass with plain seltzer and give it a quick stir. This refreshing drink is so delicious and can even be a meal replacement!
Some other yogurt recipes to look for:
- Raita – a delicious, fresh yogurt and vegetable dip, a perfect side for spicy food
- Salt Lassi – a yogurt-based drink, surprisingly refreshing
- Yogurt cheese – easy to make and a nice alternative to cream cheese for a schmear on your bagel
Do you love yogurt? What’s your favorite yogurt recipe?
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