Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Asaan Ghar di Dahin (Simple Homemade Yogurt)
These days when there is so much talk about the taste and creaminess of Greek yogurt, it is curious why more people aren’t drawn to the taste of Indian dahin (yogurt) and the way to make it at home. Most young people think that making dahin is a time-consuming and difficult process and are surprised to find how simple it is. But once you learn how to make yogurt at home, you’ll always prefer it to the others!!
This recipe is for a simpler and faster method to let the dahin ferment after you add the live culture. Be sure to use whole milk or 2% milk to get good tasting yogurt that is thick. If you use 1% milk, the dahin will be runny and shed a lot of water.
Yogurt or dahin has been a part of Hindustan’s past for centuries and is used in many ways. Dahin is considered one of the panchamitras (the others being honey, sugar, milk and ghee) used in Hindu worship and puja. The aspect of being cleansed by dahin is considered an ablution that washes away many sins.
Dahin is also used in cosmetics when mixed with turmeric and honey, as a hair conditioner; by itself with spices as a marinade for meats and dahin and honey is a prized mixture. Full fat dahin has 12% calcium and is high in protein, sugar and carbohydrates. Yogurt by itself has live cultures that can prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
In India, ready-made yogurt is now available in plastic pouches from many mini-markets, but the really delicious variety, with the crust on top is still only available from bazaar halwais (confectioners) who scoop off a glacier-like wedge and serve it in a leaf-bowl or your own dish brought from home.
- 4 cups saada doodh (whole milk) – or 2% low fat, if desired
- 2 tbsp dahin (plain yogurt) – for the starter
- Pour two tablespoons of water in a pot to coat it, preferably one with a heavy base, then pour the milk in.
- Place it over low heat and let the milk slowly come to a boil. As it does, a soft skin will form over the top and it will start to puff up and rise. Take it off and let it cool down.
- Take the 2 tbsp of yogurt out of the fridge and let it sit outside to warm up. Don’t use it cold as the fermentation will not take hold easily.
- Once the milk is lukewarm to touch, pour in the starter and mix it in thoroughly. If the milk is cold, then the fermentation will not hold.
- Pour the milk into a glass or ceramic bowl that is microwaveable. Cover the pot, and warm it for 50 seconds on high.
- Once done, let the bowl stay inside the microwave undisturbed for 7 to 8 hours. It is best to make the dahin overnight; it should be well-formed, curdled and ready to serve. Keep a small amount as a starter for the next batch of yogurt.
MAMA’S TIP OF THE WEEK: AVOID DAMP ROTIS AND NAANS WHEN ORDERING IN
Ordering in from Indian restaurants is quite common and often naan, rotis or other breads are part of the order. The restaurant usually will wraps them in an aluminum foil so that they stay warm and ready to be served but if left for awhile, the steam will condense and turn to water which then settles on the breads and turns them soggy.
It is best to open up the foil and wrap the breads with paper towels or even some clean cooking cloths so that the water vapor is absorbed by them and not by the bread. Also, leave the foil open at the top just a little.
Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur (since renamed Faisalabad), India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes