Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making Yogurt at Home

Before I begin this post, I have a question for you all. A reader sent me this description and asked if I could identify this fruit/vegetable. I am stumped and have no idea at all. The reader asked,

" I was hoping you could help me identify a fruit that I ate in India. It looked like an edamame/soybean pod with prominent bulges. If you peeled away the green part, the insides were several pods that were pinkish/whitish in color. Not at all sticky. Each pod had a black seed that resembled a tamarind seed. Any idea what this fruit is called? I bought it at a street vendor in a market in Ahmadabad. Perhaps it is a vegetable? I did see people peeling the pods and eating the white/pink parts and spitting out the seed. The taste was sort of mildly sweet and astringent...This fruit looked like a bean that had curled up. Each 'bean' was say 3-4 inches long and maybe half an inch across."

Can anyone answer her question?? Wow, I am totally impressed! Within 15 minutes of writing this post, three people- Khushi, Sana, Uma- identified it simultaneously as Manila Tamarind.

Moving on to today's post...

My downstairs neighbor dropped in for a chat. The conversation turned to post-apocalyptic books and movies (triggered by my mention of The Road) and the neighbor says to me, "Well, if we have an apocalyse, I want to be near you, because you would know how to cook and knit and make stuff from scratch". I burst out laughing because I know what she means, in that many people today are accomplished as never before, but can be shockingly lacking in basic life skills, so my love for home cooking and knitting is often seen as charmingly anachronistic ("You do know that they sell hats and scarves in Target, right?"). The other reason for my amusement is that on the homesteading scale, I fall woefully short in terms of survival skills- if we had an apocalyse, yes, I could keep your feet warm by knitting you socks, but I certainly could not make my own yarn to be able to do that.

Anyway, it remains one of my goals in life- to learn to do things from scratch, one small step at a time. The things I consume should not be mysterious objects that magically appear in stores to be bought; I want to know a little bit about how they are made and possibly make them myself.

One of my baby steps: for the past year or so, I have been making yogurt at home. Now, for a household in India, this is the most banal thing. In almost every home, on a daily basis, a spoonful of yesterday's dahi is stirred into a bowl of warm milk and put to bed for the night so the family wakes up to fresh yogurt the next day.

But for all the years I have run my own household in the US, I've simply bought tubs of low-fat yogurt and been quite happy about it. I found a couple of brands I liked- Dannon, Trader Joe's- and that was it. Last year, I finally tried setting my own yogurt. I don't know anybody in town who makes yogurt on a regular basis, so the possibility of begging for a starter culture was out. I tried using some "active live cultures" commercial yogurt as a starter but it took ages to set and the yogurt was far from perfect. What did work like a charm were dried starter cultures of friendly yogurt-making bacteria- I learned about these dried cultures, sold under the brand Yogourmet, on this post from Jugalbandi.

Now I make a batch of yogurt every week using a sachet of Yogourmet. Yogurt-making does not require any special equipment but some tools come in handy. Here's what I use.

1. 2% milk, preferably organic: Whole milk does make thick and dreamy yogurt but 2% works very well for yogurt that is lower in fat but still as tasty.

2. Yogourmet dried yogurt culture: In St. Louis, I've bought this at Whole Foods (Brentwood) and Golden Grocer (Euclid Avenue).

3. An insulated casserole: While not necessary, an insulated container helps to snugly incubate the culture while the yogurt sets, especially useful in winter. These kind of insulated casseroles were all the rage in India in the 70s and 80s and even to this day; I noticed on my last trip to Bombay that they are cheap and easily available in stores everywhere. My mother found me an insulated casserole that holds 4 cups of milk- exactly the volume I need for one batch of yogurt. A wide-mouthed thermos would work in the same way.

4. A candy thermometer: This is helpful when heating up the milk to the right temperature and adding culture when it cools to the right temperature. You can always estimate these using sight and touch, but a thermometer makes it very precise.

Homemade Yogurt

1. In a saucepan, pour 4 cups 2% milk and clip a candy thermometer (if you have one) to the side of the pan.

2. Let the milk heat to 180F (or until it is steaming and bubbles are forming on the sides of the pan) and then turn off the heat. Heating the milk to this temperature improves the consistency of the resulting yogurt.

3. Let the milk sit there until it cools to 115-110F (warm but not hot).

4. Empty sachet of yogurt cultures into an insulated casserole. Pour in a little of the warm milk. Use a whisk to dissolve the cultures into the milk. Then pour in the rest of the milk and whisk to distribute the cultures evenly. Close the lid and leave it undisturbed for 6-7 hours at room temperature or until the yogurt sets. Refrigerate.

The only "tricky" part, if you want to call it that, is to remember to check on the milk periodically as it is cooling and add the cultures as soon as the temperature falls to 115-110F. If you let the milk get cold, the bacteria won't have their ideal growth conditions. In my home, Dale gets the thin skin of malai (cream) that forms on the cooling milk. He knows the minute I start warming the milk that the malai treat is coming soon. So he watches the pan like a hawk and every few minutes, he comes and finds me wherever I am and nudges me to remind me of the milk- that way, I always remember to add the warm milk at just the right time. Dogs are good for many things!

By the way, I don't add milk powder to my yogurt; I tried it a few times and did not like the way it tasted.

The one thing that still does not work consistently for me is using yogurt from the previous batch as a starter- I use a sachet of dried culture every time I make yogurt. Perhaps that is because I only make one batch of yogurt every week or so, and by the time I'm ready to make the next batch, the old culture is not as viable any more. When the weather gets warmer, come May or June, I intend to give this another try. Scratch that- after some rookie problems, I can now consistently make batches of yogurt starting with a couple of tablespoons from the previous batch. Like people have said in the comments, it is only a matter of getting a feel for the process.

I'm happy I started making yogurt for several reasons-
(a) Texture: Don't get me wrong, I like store bought yogurt just fine and have eaten it for years. But since I started to make yogurt at home, I love how the texture is creamy but never gummy.
(b) Packaging waste: I'm very happy to be able to avoid the plastic yogurt tubs. I always reused the tubs (for pantry storage) or recycled them, but reduce beats both reuse and recycle.
(c) Cost: The yogurt cultures are not dirt cheap or anything (around 5-6$ for a pack of 6 sachets), and you have to factor in the cost of the milk, but homemade yogurt is still significantly cheaper than store-bought stuff.
(d) Streamlining my grocery list: I use fresh yogurt in place of sour cream and cream cheese in dips and spreads and to dollop on burritos, so I have cut down significantly on buying other dairy products.

Supplementary reading: Harold Mcgee's New York Times article has plenty of great information on making yogurt at home.

Is there anything you have learnt to make from scratch that you previously bought?

79 comments:

  1. The description of the fruit sounds remarkably like 'seetaphal'. Images here.

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  2. Altoid- No, I'm afraid it is not the sitaphal/seetaphal. When I read the description, sitaphal is the only fruit I could think of, that matched part of the description but she says that was not the one. Seetaphals are not shaped like bean pods in any case. Nor can the taste be described as astringent, and they certainly are very sticky :)

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  3. It is called Sweet Tamarind or Manila Tamarind. In Gujarat we call it Sweet Tamarind.

    Here are some of the links:

    http://www.kitchentantra.com/2009/01/koduka-puli-manila-tamarind.html

    http://travel.webshots.com/photo/1115147377010442789BlMFhs

    And if you google it, you'll find more info about it.

    Oh, now I want some of those sweet tamarind...

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  4. I am very curios to know the name to the veg/fruti myself..
    I use the same culture as well.. it comes out like cake everytime i use it, i use 1% milk though.

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  5. Its this Manila Tamarind

    Other Names: Mitiambli, Mitiamli, Guayamochil, Guamachil

    You can google search images

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  6. Hello Nupur,

    Sounds like "Koduka Puli". That is what we call it in Tamil. It is really tasty. Just do a google search for "Koduka Puli" and you will see the images and here is a blogpost on it http://www.kitchentantra.com/2009/01/koduka-puli-manila-tamarind.html

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  7. Next step after learning to knit is learning to spin your own yarn. It's easy to do, and fun if you buy a drop spindle so you can do it anywhere.

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  8. Definitely sounds like sweet tamarind.

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  9. Nupur, That's the one! Thank you. You and your readers are the best.

    -Rainee

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  10. I remember eating this as a kid from a tree that grew in my grandma's house... many many years ago -though I haven't seen it in recent times. If i remember right, it's called 'Kodikai - puli' in tamil. Have no idea what it is called in English or any other name. The description above matches this fruit very well.

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  11. Don't you just love homemade yogurt? I regularly make yogurt at home and have a couple of friends who do so too, so I am always ensured I never run out of the culture. If I need to make a large quantity of yogurt, I keep the pot covered and put it in the oven with the light on (oven off). It sets in 12 hours. Somethings that I now make at home are shrikhand and paneer.

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  12. I always assumed making yogurt would be difficult... Now I'll have to give it a try!

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  13. I used to buy yogurt too, in costco one gets this BIG tub (4 lbs. for abt $4) but recently, I got some culture from a friens and now I make yummy dahi at home.
    She said that her 'original' culture/ yogurt was Trader Joe's and it did not contain any gelatin or additives and worked very well!

    In my case I tried the casserole, but using anything works for CA weather! I just leave the tub n the stove which is slightly arm and it sets nice and tight!

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  14. I have been meaning to make dahi at home but I have never really gotten to it. I really must. Also I'd love to make bread.

    What have I learnt to make from scratch- hmm..*thinks and thinks*..oh yes- face cream (with both a water and oil phase),shea foot cream, toner, perfume..:) Though I don't think I have the time to actually make any of these on a regular basis (except the toner, maybe)

    One of my dreams is to make my own cheese. I guess I'd better start with yogurt for now, though..:)

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  15. Nupur, I am one of those silent readers of yours who had never left a comment before but has been dutifully following your blog for years now. (for the first time I sent you a comment last week through your 'conatct me' form but got to tell you that the captcha you have on your form has its own mind :-))

    Anyway I usually get a small dabba of yougurt packed either from the thali I order from the Indian restaurant or just ask the restaurant people to give a spoonful or two from the yogurt they use for making raita. That's the best yogurt culture you can get to make home made yougurt.

    Another source of yougurt culture is from the cafeteria of Indian/ hindu temple where excellent yougurt rice is made as prashad.

    For years now, I make my own ghee and own paneer :-)

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  16. Hey,

    I use the Eurocuisine yogurt maker. I don't have to worry about the temperature of milk etc. Curd sets even when the milk is fridge cold :) I bought it on Amazon for $30. Amma used a GE yogurt maker from 1973 onwards :)

    I used to buy dosa batter from the store and now I make my own from scratch!

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  17. As I was reading your post I immediately thought of what we call in marathi as "Vilayati chincha". Looking at the picture I think it is the same thing. Is it? I did not know it is called Manila Tamarind.

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  18. Hi Nupur,

    I am pretty pleased to see the Tamarind, never heard nor saw.

    I stumbled upon a guest post on eepa's post on home made Cheese by Ed (Deepa - Foodlyrics.com). Think you'll enjoy it.

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  19. My friend has promised me some homemade yogurt to use as a starter..waiting for that! Homemade dahi does have this awesome taste and feel to it. For that matter, anything homemade is always better. I have started making paneer at home. Want to start making butter and ghee too - mom used to make it back home :)

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  20. I love home made yogurt too, but haven't made some in a while now. I try to avoid store brands which have gelatin, which is the source of gummy taste. The best part about home made yogurt is that it takes kadhi to another level :).

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  21. Thanks for sharing this Nupur. I just love homemade yogurt or should I say curd. I tried it a couple of times with Dannon yogurt but it didn't work. I am surely going to try this. I just have one question - does it taste like yogurt or like curd we make in India. If it tastes like curd nothing like it :)

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  22. Hi......Nupur
    As usual, a lovely post from you....
    And you are so right.....Sometimes, its great fun to learn a recipe from scratch.....
    it could be something simple like making paneer at home for palakpaneer sabji :))
    I learnt to make shrikand from scratch....i can make chakka at home... not something very great but some satisfaction of having learnt it :))
    Btw...i watched Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana Khazana,in which in one of the episode's he taught to make perfect dahi at home....
    His trick was to heat the milk to room temp(lukewarm) and then add dahi mixed with water(watery fluid) and mix well.......But also add some dahi as it is(do not mix)and keep one green chilli in the mixture and close the lid
    The green chilli helps in getting thick dahi....

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  23. I tried 2-3 times to set yogurt at home before (followed our Indian style). Unfortunately i didn't get perfect result. :( Since then i use store bought one only.
    Whenever i read the post about to make yogurt at home...i always get so tempted to try it again. But I don't find that yogurtmet culture sachet here. I am off to go to find other local products here. Let's hope I'll find something best.

    Your Dale and cream part...LOL! such a smart dog! :D

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  24. Nupur,

    I have always felt setting yogurt in foreign land is difficult ...I have been setting yougurt in hot-pots back in home regularly ...just 3-4 hrs with a teaspoon of dahi/yogurt is sufficient for a good culture.Dont know why it is so difficult here ..
    I have been setting Mishti Doi now but for that I need quite a big amount of dahi..Thanks for the yogourmet tip but let me first check if I can find that in London or not ...
    and home-made dahi is so delicious than store bought ..you are so right there..
    hugs and smiles

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  25. Khushi- You are right! Thanks for identifying it correctly :)

    Madhu- The mystery is solved- it is Manila tamarind. Good to know that yogurt can be made with 1% milk too! When you say it comes out like cake, do you mean that it sets to nice firm consistency?

    sana- Thanks for the info, good to know so many names!

    uma- That's the one, thanks for the correct guess and the link.

    Lydia- I know, it is a slippery slope :) my next step is to dye my own yarn, but I want to learn spinning too!

    Shilpa- That's the right guess.

    Rainee- Are these folks clever or what? Glad the mystery is solved!

    Laavanya- It is the Manila tamarind in English. How fun that you have childhood memories of eating it!

    namita- Yes, homemade yogurt is in a class by itself! The oven light trick works well for those who own an electric oven. Mine is a gas oven and I don't have a light in it. But I turn it to the lowest setting and get it warm, then turn it off and put stuff in the warm oven when I need something fermented.
    Oh yes, shrikhand is fun to make at home. Paneer is something I've made a few times, but I confess that I tend to buy it. My homemade paneer is quite soft and does not cut well into chunks the way store bought does.

    Andrea Moberly- No, it is the easiest thing in the world- all you need is warm milk and cultures. Give it a try and let us know how it works for you :)

    Manasi- How nice that she was able to get a good culture going from the Trader Joe's yogurt! I do think the weather plays a role, here in Missouri it is freezing half the year.

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  26. Lavanya- Yogurt making is dead easy especially with the powdered cultures. And you'll love the results. Bread making is really fun too, and I really love how easy the methods in the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day are. As for cheese, paneer is the simplest.
    So you know how to make several cosmetics from scratch! How fun!

    Viji- Oh dear, I'll try and find another contact form that does not involve those captchas! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment anyway.
    I never thought of asking an Indian restaurant for dahi! I am definitely going to do that, thanks for sharing a great tip.
    Oh, making my own ghee at home is something that I have always wanted to do. Your ghee must taste so wonderful.

    Raaga- Having a yogurt maker is great, but not something I want to get because of my teeny tiny kitchen and extremely limited counter space!
    For me, making dosa batter from scratch was never an option because we can't buy it here :)

    Amruta- You know, now that you mention it, I remember seeing people in Maharashtra selling these out of baskets on the roadside, I guess I always assumed it was just unripe tamarind.

    Ashwini- Ah, making cheese would be fun, the only kind I have made is paneer.

    Superchef- Yes, making butter is wonderful by saving cream from milk for a few days. Here with low-fat milk and homogenized milk that's not possible but one could start with heavy cream.

    musical- Yes, the gelatin definitely makes it gummy. You are right, homemade dahi makes awesome kadhi!

    amruta- I know, I tried with Dannon too but without much success. Try with yogourmet and I'm quite sure you will be thrilled with the results. It does taste like fresh dahi the way you get it in India.

    Rujuta- Yes, I agree, even making paneer from scratch is so satisfying. Oh, you make chakka at home? Is chakka just dahi with water drained out or is there another way to make it?
    I have heard about this green chilli trick before; I'm guessing green chillies have natural/wild bacteria growing on them that help the curd-setting process? Is that how it works? In any case, it is not a trick I can use because I buy green chillies only once in several months and store them in the freezer!

    Sonia- You might find some other powdered cultures there, check health food stores. Also, like another reader recommended, get some culture from a local Indian restaurant and give it a shot. Good luck!
    Yes, Dale is smart when it comes to his treats, other things, not so much :)

    Jaya- If you can't find yogourmet, look for some other brand in health food stores or get cultures from an Indian restaurant (I know there are plenty of good Indian restaurants in London). Good luck, and let us know how it works out!

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  27. Hi Nupur,

    I have been making yogurt in the US for years now. My current culture comes from Yogurt borrowed from a relative who in turn had borrowed it from the local Indian temple!! The previous one came from a friend who had acquired it from a Gurdwara! All I do is bring ~ 500 ml 2% milk to a boil, cool it down to a point where it is warm but not scalding to the touch and add in about a couple of teaspoons of well mixed yogurt. In the summer I put this inside the microwave overnight and in the winter inside a previously warmed oven with the light on...and voila perfectly set yogurt the next day! The trick is, I've realized, to have a warm atmosphere to begin with.

    I would send you some if I could ...any options? OR let me know if you are in my neck of the woods anytime...I live near DC:)

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  28. Hi Nupur, Thanks for such a detailed description on setting up the yogurt. This sure would help. Can we get the yogourmet in walmart??

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  29. Ya Nupur, I still remember those 'Vilayati Chincha'. We used to eat this in our school days. And used to play one game with seeds.......remove the black cover of the seed gently, inside that one brown coating is there and again inside that white seed. We have to remove only the black cover and not the brown one. This require skill and Patience. :)

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  30. Hi Nupur,

    Making things at home that you previously bought makes me insanely happy, I dont know why and when it comes out even better than the store-bought, then it is doubly wonderful.

    The things I took for granted when I lived in India, had to be made at home when in Germany. Ghee and Paneer. And it was a struggle to get my first yogurt started.

    Now that I am back to India, those things that I took for granted in Germany had to be learnt here. Butter, Baguettes, Bread. Butter here, in Bangalore atleast, smells weird. Baguettes and Bread, I have to pay through my nose to get decent ones. So, its necessity the mother of invention, atleast for me.

    - Keerthi

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  31. hi
    I love your blog ! your photographs are beautiful, language - very lucid and recipes are original and explained very well. is this one of those - 'award winning blogs'? :-)

    I have tried making yogurt at home but never turned out edible. I even got live culture from india but it was good only for a couple of uses. thanks for sharing this recipe with us, i hope i find dry cultures at walmart.
    b'bye.
    G

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  32. we make dahi at home.. but here i use store bought only..

    Hey, i have some awrds waiting for u in my blog.. do accept..

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  33. I could guess it was Seema Chintakai(in Telugu) or Manila Tamarind, half way through the description. Oh, how i miss them. I didn't know it had so many names and so widely known.

    Sandhya

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  34. Hey Nupur!

    I completely missed the 5th birthday of your blog. So a very belated Happy Birthday One Hot Stove - you're simply the best :D

    Love, Shoots:)

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  35. I started mine the old fashioned way, borrowed a bit from my neighbor. I use fat free milk and works perfect. Even if my starter (old yogurt) is more than a month old it still works perfectly fine. I left a small bit in the fridge when we went on our 2 month vacation and when I came it still made perfect yogurt.

    Yogourmet probably loses some of its potency once it is used (makes perfect business sense).

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  36. I always make yogurt at home. And I also keep a stash of Yogourmet at home if my starter yougurt is not good.

    Anythign else I make from scratch: well, pretty much most masala powders now, Garam masala, Chana masala etc.

    I went through bread-making and pizza making phase, but that had to go out the window because I was eating too much. I do indulge in baking every so often for my kid and try not to buy the unhealthy stuff too often ;)


    I used to buy the canned Campbell's soup.. no more.. I make soup's at home though my soup's are "throw everything from my frige into the pot" version.

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  37. I have been making yogurt at home since last few years. After I killed my culture given to me by my m-i-l. I tried my hands on yogermet starter and loved it. Since it's expensive to use a pack every time I make yogurt from the pack and freeze that batch in an ice cube tray. Few hours later I take out the cubes and place them in a double ziplock. I use 2-3 cubes for a gallon of milk. Set a kitchen timer for cooling time so I don't miss the window. The system works great for me. If for some reason your yogurt doesn't set play with the temperature of the milk and the amount of culture. Yogurt bacteria are very hardy and do not die in week. It requires knowing them.
    When you are ready to experiment with kafir don't go far looking for the grains. I need a kafir buddy.

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  38. Nupur, have you tried smuggling yogurt from India? I brought some in a small medicine bottle last time I went home(2 years ago). I made a very small batch intially and now make curds everyday. If you are coming to the East coast sometime let me know, I shall have a small culture ready for you!

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  39. Hey Nupur, i remember this fruit. We had a tree in our backyard in kolhapur. we called it vilayti chinch. I especially loved this post of yours, brings back some good old memories....
    Uma Karadge

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  40. I know- it is fun! And, except for the face cream, it is super easy too..Though, for somebody like you, who bakes cakes so often, the face cream should be a breeze- similar concept. I was so inspired by your knitting posts and the ravelry site that I was tempted to try knitting- but I have never really knitted before and I don't know if i'll be any good at it (though it must be super satisfying to knit your own scarf/muffler no?)

    Oh and I meant cheeses other than paneer..:) (though I need to start making paneer at home regularly too. and dosa batter). I will try making yogurt at home this weekend and report back..:)

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  41. I know the fruit is already identified as manila tamarind. but just wanted to share that we call it "vilayati chinch" in Marathi. can be translated as foerign tamarind.

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  42. Laughing, laughing, how Dale helps with yogurt. Maybe Lady can help too? I too used to make yogurt all the time, must must get back in the habit. Between sprouts and starters and yogurt (and what else?) I need a special "holding area" in my kitchen!

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  43. hi nupur!

    great, useful post as usual :) im a regular reader (i get ur blog link thru FeedBlitz) but only commented once before.
    I wanted to share here my method of making Ghee (toop) at home. Its really very easy & takes about 20 mins. What i do basically is Clarify the store-bought butter until it becomes Ghee.
    *Buy any brand of Unsalted sweet cream butter from the supermarket.
    *In a wide bottomed pan, (preferably nonstick) put these cubes & heat until its all melted & boiling.
    * A lot of foam on top is normal, keep stirring it. Keep boiling & sniffing it, since ur sense of smell is the best judge of when to switch off the heat.
    * When the foam is almost gone & u see a nice golden-yellow colour & that unmistakable Toop aroma, immediately turn the heat off & move to a cool surface.
    * Let cool completely before straining & storing in an airtight container. The brownish solids that remain in the strainer is what we 'Beri' in marathi. It is slightly tart & yummy with some sugar mixed in. Goes very well with fresh rotis.
    This ghee will stay good for many months, mine’s always gone in a 2  Since it is so tasty & cheap, I use it for tadka too, besides with ‘sadha waran’, ‘bhat’, etc…
    One more little tip-
    Adding 1/2 a teaspoon of salt to the melted butter (before it comes to its first boil) gives the Ghee a lovely grainy quality. Only drawback is that then the 'berry' at the bottom will be inedible, very salty. But the salt will have no effect whatsoever on the taste of the Ghee.

    I hope u & ur readers make & enjoy ur very own, homemade, lovely golden-yellow Ghee :)

    Amruta

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  44. hi nupur

    i am an avid reader of yr blog. the tamarind - when we were kids in mumbai, it was sold on carts as 'vilayati chincha'. several yrs later, saw it yesterday at a fruit stall in vile parle bhaji market - mumbai. packed in a nice cardboard box with with a cut-out window covered with clear cellophene. :-) i was intrigued at seeing such a box at a fruitstall, and couldnt help smiling when i saw the contents.

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  45. Hi Nupur! I have been making yoghurt (Dahi) for several years now. I have used the regular store bought plain yoghurt (Dannon) asa starter and have had great success. I have tried with 2% nad full fat milk and have got the thick creamy texture. I also make Shrikand with this dahi and the chakka tastes like the ones we get in the local diaries in India.I use a corelle/pyrex dish to set the dahi. The thermos works great too.

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  46. Jyoti- Thanks for the kind offer to send me some culture :) very nice of you, but I'm going to check with some local Indian restaurants first.

    Tejaswini- I have no idea, sorry; I don't shop in Walmart. But I think it is available online (like on Amazon and other sites) if you can't find it locally.

    Khaugiri- I bet :) what a fun childhood memory! I remember collecting tamarind seeds and using them almost as currency, they were that precious. We would play endless games with a handful of seeds.

    Hobbes- LOL I agree with you, it makes me insanely happy too! It is hard to explain that joy. I know what you mean- depending on where in the world you live, you have unlimited access to some things and no access to others. But thanks to the Internet, there are ways for me to learn to make dahi and you to learn to make baguettes :)
    Have you tried churning butter from cream? I remember, in India, homemade butter is incredible because of the high quality of the milk.

    G- No, I'm afraid it is no award-blogging blog, just my cozy little home :)
    You'll get good results with dry cultures and then, you can slowly learn the art of making yogurt and be able to make subsequent batches from previous ones, as I hope to.

    Jyoti- Thanks for the award- very sweet of you!

    Sandhya- I must look for these, everyone seems to love and miss this fruit!

    Shoots- Thank my my love! So what have you been cooking lately?

    indosungod- See, my neighbors are not into making yogurt :D sigh!
    No, it is my fault, not the yogourtmet's, in not being able to carry cultures forward. Other people don't have this problem. Hopefully I'll be able to try again and make it work.

    Suganthi- Oh yes, masalas made from scratch taste so wonderful. And fridge-cleaning soups are one of a kind :)

    Punita- That's a clever trick, and I am impressed that the cultures survive the freeze-thaw cycle. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    SJ- Nope, have not tried getting cultures from India. Thanks for your offer, I might take you up on it :)

    Uma- Oh, really? I don't remember eating this fruit for some reason, I'll have to look for it!

    Lavanya- Umm, I am a slob who barely fixes her hair (ashamed to admit this but 'tis the truth) so face cream and all is beyond me!
    So have you already started knitting? Good luck and let me know how it goes. Yes, it is really fun to go about wearing scarves you've made and being able to make them for friends too.
    I have not made any cheeses other than paneer either. I have to locate some microbial rennet and I'm told cheeses like ricotta and mozzarella are quite easy to make.

    Meera- Yes, it is fun for me to learn about this, somehow in my 20+ plus years in India, I missed this fruit completely!

    Alanna- Sure, send Lady along, we always have jobs and concomitant treats for dogs here! I know what you mean, my kitchen looks crazy sometimes with all sorts of things living and growing and fermenting everywhere.

    amruta- How nice of you to share your ghee-making technique with us! As soon as I finish my current jar of ghee (might take a while since I use ghee quite sparingly), I'm going to give your recipe a try :)

    lady-hope- Oh my the humble fruit got some glamor eh? Thanks for sharing.

    Sheetal & Rahul- Good for you that Dannon worked well as a starter!

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  47. Hi Nupur,
    I chanced upon your blog 2 weeks back and couldn't stop reading your posts, recipes and related anecdotes. I love your blog. Keep the good work on. I fell in love with cooking last year but gave up a couple of months down the line but me thinks I should resume the same and all thanks to your blog.

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  48. Hi Nupur,

    I've attempted several methods to make home-made yoghurt with just the right taste and texture.

    In my opinion, the winner is a tip given by my dear friend U, I've used this for the past 4 years and refuse to try anything else.

    I use "Plain" Kefir as the starter:
    http://www.lifeway.net/Products/Kefir/LowFatKefir/LowFatPlain.aspx

    Here's my method: I make 1 batch every couple of days, in a 4-cup pyrex dish (ofc any microwave safe container will work)

    Microwave milk in pyrex dish for 6-8 mins (I do 4 mins, break for a couple of mins and 4 mins again to avoid milk from boiling over)

    Allow it to cool, for about 20mins.

    Stir-in 1/8 cup of kefir and mix thoroughly

    Close the container, leave it inside oven overnight (about 6-8hrs). I don't use warm setting or pre-heat or light or any such thing. Just stick it in the oven.

    Voila, great tasting, smooth textured yoghurt every time.

    The best part is, you can use this yoghurt as your culture for future batches or buy a new bottle of Kefir if you run out.

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  49. You are very sweet Nupur. Really .. it shows .. you also write well. I like your recipes.

    -Follower of your blog for over 2 yrs.

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  50. lovely post! I make dahi at home too but it works because of the electric oven as you rightly pointed out.

    I like your section listing out books your read. Can you suggesst a good book I can start with under "fiction". I have already read The Kite Runner and liked it. I don't like sci-fi, heavy reading or unrealistic story line. Short stories, mysteries etc are my liking. if it is not too much trouble, can you make some suggesstions?

    Thanks,
    Poornima

    PS: delurking now after following your blog for a few months, don't shoot me :)

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  51. Just saw the Kohlapur Market pictures and caught sight of the kona puliyangai in Tamil literally translates to 'crooked tamarind', also saw you had updated the post with the information. It was literally right under your nose so to speak. We lived on these when were younger and the trees were all over, now the trees have disappeared literally from most places.

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  52. Poornima, may i?

    A Thousand Splendid Suns
    Atonement
    The Glass Castle
    The Glass Palace
    The Time Traveler's Wife
    Revolutionary Road
    Water For Elephants

    Of course, i'm only recommending popular choices.

    Sandhya

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  53. Shoot - I was ready to answer. I recently had (I think) the same thing in Thailand where it is pink & green, not all green.

    I'm so happy you provided the yogurt tutorial. It's one of my resolutions for this year to make yogurt. I am excited to have such a good guide.

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  54. Thanks for posting about the dried culture. I tried making yogurt once using starter from dannon yogurt and it didn't set properly. How much yogurt do you get from a one gallon container of milk? I can sometimes buy middle eastern yogurt for $1.99for a regular sized container so am wondering if its even worth it for me.

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  55. Hi Nupur, I've been following your blog, appreciating your writing, your food, your knitting, your passion and your patience....Love your blog....
    Just gave you a dual award Happy & Sunshine on my blog, a simple thanks....
    Neeta

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  56. rv- Thanks for sharing your method, it is very interesting to know that kefir works well as a starter. I'll have to try this for sure.

    Poornima- You might like the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

    indosungod- Yes, it was the funniest thing, after reading Sandeepa's post, I went back and looked at my 4-yr old post on the Kolhapur bazaar and saw the tamarind hidden in the photo! You are so right, it was under my nose the whole time I was trying to identify it :D

    Charlene- It depends on how much culture you want to use and how much yogurt you want. One gallon of milk has 16 cups of milk, so you can get 4 batches of yogurt from it using the method I described above.

    Neeta- Thank you so much, very sweet of you!

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  57. Testing to see that URL really is optional -Nupur

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  58. Your post inspired me to make yogurt at home. I used regular All natural Dannon Non Fat yogurt and the dahi came out beautifully. I microwaved the milk to 195 F, then cooled it to 115F. Added a tablespoon of the Dannon yogurt (for milk=3/4 yogurt cup). Then let it set in the oven with the light on overnight. Next day I popped it in the fridge for 2 hours and voila lovely dahi!! I have tried making this with whole milk, 1 percent milk and mixture of the two. Each time with perfect results, though the whole milk one was definitely the most creamy and delicious!

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  59. Hi, nupur, lovely description of making yogurt, I used to buy yogurt here, but one day when I went to see my friend S, as she invited us for lunch, I thought the yogurt tasted very Indianish when asked she told me a little secret, that she brought the yogurt culture!!, that is she had brought a small cup of yogurt from India, when she came from her trip and is making the yogurt from that and she was kind enough to give me some, and Lo! after that from almost 2 and 1/2 years I make my own yogurt, and we all enjoy it, especially my kids, as I love to make my own powders, I tried your amti masala, liked it so much!,

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  60. hi nupur,

    while in US to make curd for the first time from scratch, i used my mom's trick, which is, boil the milk, let it come to room temperature and just squeeze 2-3 drops of lemon juice.

    Thats it. it sets to curd and u can use the same as starter from next time onwards. In winters, do the same and place the container in a 5 mins pre-heated oven or leave the oven light "on" whole night. In summers its a breeze.

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  61. Hi Nupur,

    My mom also makes yogurt at home, in Atlanta. However, she uses the culture that she got from India several years ago. I know...quite intense :P Basically, she heats up the milk until its steams, lets it cool and then adds the old yogurt (she save a little every time). Would this method work with your recipe? Hence, first time around, we make yogurt with the culture and then save some for further use. Essentially, we end up using the same culture repeatedly. Would this work for your recipe? Let me know what you think? This might help grad students save some money :)

    Thanks
    Sharanya

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  62. Nupur, the Greek-style yoghurt at Trader Joe's makes a fantastic starter. I've been making dahi at home for a while now but would always worry about running out of 'starter'.. not any more!! depending on what I am cooking, I make yoghurt at home once or twice a week and usually the previous batch works just fine as a starter. Every so often I will run out though (if we scrape the bowl clean before I put some starter aside) and start again from the TJ's. Try it - a lot of my friends have been thrilled with the result.

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  63. Tara- How nice for you! I'm so thrilled that you got such perfect results!

    jayasri- Yes, that's what people are telling me, that they often get culture from India :) but it seems to work well with cultures from American yogurt as well. I'm so glad you enjoyed the amti masala.

    triveni- That's a very unusual trick, to almost curdle the milk and then let it ferment. Thanks for sharing it!

    Sharan- Yes, using a bit of the previous yogurt to make the next batch should work with this recipe as well. However, it is something you'll need to try and perfect for your own kitchen.

    Nisha- Oh that's good to know! I got some culture from an Indian restaurant this weekend but if I run out, I'm going to try your trick- thanks!

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  64. Kudos to you for making homemade yogurt. I have been considering making my own too but I would really like to make it with fat free milk. Have you tried it with fat free milk? Does it work?

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  65. Hey Nupur,

    This is how I made my yogurt. Bring the required qty of milk (2% tastes good enough) to a boil in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and when still hot pour to a container and put a ladel full of dahi (I used the low fat dahi bought from the Indian store) and keep it in the conventional oven (cool) The dahi sets within half a day in summer and takes 24 hours in winter.

    Let me know if it works for you. I am a south Indian and this worked for our tayir chadam (curd rice) very well!!!!

    Priya

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  66. I liked your post. I recently saw Alton Brown on youtube explaining the curd making, and I liked that. In north Indian homes (as also in South and West and East :-)) the curds and culture are always available, but tradition is tradition. Tradition allows for little or no open-minded evaluation of the methodology.

    I found with my observation that the pot makes a difference, a clay pot is better, it soaks moisture and breathes. If you can add a little air in the milk, by aeration, pouring from one pot to the other, and vice versa, it helps. It makes foam of rich milk on top, which gives nice 'malai' in the curd. Thicker milk, by heat-reduction, or by addition of powder is better still.

    The process is exothermic, and keeping the pot insulated with a cloth is enough to give consistent temperature.

    Good curd has no comparison in feel, taste, and nutrition. I like a little sour taste, if water(Whey) can be drained out, better. Poured over fried tortilla chips, with red chillies and salt, the taste is heavenly, all Bombayites know it well.

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  67. Ugh.. I totally agree with your neighbor! Most people would have no idea how to fend for themselves in an apocalypse. It is a little scary when you think about it. A few years ago, there was a TV show called Jericho that was all about that.

    I have been thinking about making my own yogurt for a long time - hopefully your highly informative post is the kick-in-the-butt that gets me going!

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  68. I tried making curd using your "scientific" method - I specially bought a thermometer to measure the temperature! Woke up this morning to beautifully set, yummy curd. Finally I can make curd successfully, consistently, during winter months - yaay!

    I used about a tablespoon of store bought curd as as the starter instead of yogurt culture - got good results.

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  69. I'm so relieved to hear that you, and so many others, have had trouble making indian-style yogurt at home! I have been so frustrated the last few months, trying to make it from pre-existing yogurt as a starter--only once has it come out even remotely correctly. I will continue trying based on these comments and try the yogourmet starter if all else fails. At least until I sneak some yogurt back from India next time I'm there! Your dog is brilliant, btw. One of my cats knows that as soon as I start boiling water for tea, that it will soon be time for him to have a bit of cream!

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  70. Hi Nupur! I am happy to find your blog and specifically this post on yogurt making. I am going to be product testing a yogurt maker for my blog. I have linked to your blog, this post, and have quoted you in the post. Please let me know if this is ok, if not I will remove it and you can remove the link below. I look forward to visiting your blog. Cheers Tiffany
    http://tiffanyteske.blogspot.com/2010/09/happy-and-healthy-making-homemade.html

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  71. Last night I was laying in bed thinking about stuff that I can make at home and got to thinking about yogurt. And then today I'm catching up on my blog reading and came across your post (which links to this one). What a great coincidence! I actually have a yogurt maker from the 70s that my mom gave me that I want to try. Thanks for the info about where to get the culture and the link to the NYT article. Happy New Year!

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  72. Hey Hi,

    I am posting a comment for the first time on your blog though i have tried a lot of recipes from ur blog and all are gud.

    speaking of yogurt my yogurt results are very bad. it has lots of water in it please suggest.


    i have started a new blog just a few days ago. inspired by you!!!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Uttara,

      If you are getting a lot of in the yoghurt, start with a thickened milk. My secret is to add a tablespoonful of milk powder to a liter of milk. Will work.

      Good luck.

      Delete
  73. Hi Nupur,
    this is my first comment to you , though i have tried a lot of recipies from your blog and all of them were gud.

    and from ur inspiration i have started my own recipe blog.

    hope it works!!

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  74. Hi Nupur,

    Thank you for maintaing this wonderful blog. I have tried making yogurt at home but to no avail. I have been buying the yogurt from the Indian store which tastes just like yogurt we made back home in India. Is the culture from that yogurt a good start?

    Thanks in advance for your response.

    Krithi

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    Replies
    1. Krithi, I tried using "desi" brand yogurt as a starter culture once but did not have any success with that. For me, what has worked best is to start with a commercial culture like the yogourmet brand. The yogurt made with this tastes fantastic to me and I just use a bit of the yogurt to start the next batch and so on.

      For Indian yogurt cultures, some people get good results with yogurt from Indian restaurants that make their own yogurt (just ask them for a bit of plain yogurt when you eat a meal there).

      Delete
  75. I stumbled across your blog googling for "tamarind yogurt starter" cause I saw some anecdotal stuff about making a yogurt starter from tamarinds and chili peppers. Don't get me wrong, I love Yogourmet and have been using it for years. If you want a cheaper source, try buying a yogurt starter called "ABY-2C" It takes 1/16 teaspoon for 6.5 cups of milk. It's not as tart as Yogourmet but is very creamy and is firm like Yogourmet.

    I made a starter using red chili peppers. It has retained a slight aroma of bell peppers which I'm hoping will dissipate in subsequent generations. Very firm and creamy and at 50¢ for the chili stems, very frugal.

    Photos here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/marypatcollins/sets/72157631048207202/

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  76. Hi Nupur..thanks for this lovely recipe. I had a question though. Do you use the culture everytime you make the yoghurt or do you then reuse the yoghurt as your culture? how much yoghurt do you make at one time with 4 cups of milk and how much yogourmet do you then use to make it?
    I apologize in advance if my questions are already answered in your post.

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  77. Hi I wonder if it is possible to reuse clay pots when making yoghurt if I sterilise them and boil them

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