Yogurt (Dahi)

Yogurt or dahi is a critical ingredient in daily Indian cooking and has been a staple for centuries. It is used in lassi, raita, kadhi (a yogurt chickpea flour soup) and sweets made out of yogurt cheese.

4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons plain yogurt or active yogurt culture

1) Bring the whole milk to a boil in a saucepan, stirring constantly. Keep a close watch at this point or you may risk boiling over the stove. Let the milk cool until it feels lukewarm (about 100-110 F). It is handy to have a candy thermometer here. Place the yogurt in a 2-quart bowl and whisk until fairly smooth.
2) Slowly add in the lukewarm milk and gently stir to mix. Cover the bowl and keep it in a draft free place overnight, preferably in the oven with the setting off. It is extremely important that the boiled milk is not too warm when you add the active yogurt culture to it. Otherwise it will just curdle and separate from whey (the result – loss of the live bacteria or friendly bacteria as it often happens when yeast is added to very warm water).

Note: Just make sure the brand of yogurt you buy as a starter contains “live” or “active” cultures. Once the yogurt is ready it must be chilled in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours before serving. Save some yogurt to use as a starter for the next batch. Plain yogurt will keep in the refrigerator for 10-14 days.

Variation: Follow the same method until the milk is lukewarm. Add the starter culture or active yogurt culture to milk and lightly whisk to combine. Place a fine-mesh sieve set over a 2-quart bowl and strain milk mixture through it. Remove the foam from top. Cover the bowl and keep it in the warm place (or preferably in the oven – control off) for about 5 to 8 hours or until yogurt is set. Yield: 1 quart

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