Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Aasan Tarike ki Dahin (Easy Homemade Yogurt)


Yogurt or dahin has had a sacred significance in the daily lives of Hindus since the very inception of Hinduism, and by extension, of Hindustani culture. Cows and cow’s milk have a special place in Hinduism as both are intertwined with the story of the young Lord Krishna. Dahin is also one of the panchamitras (the five nectars – the others being honey, sugar, milk and ghee (clarified butter)) used in Hindu worship and puja. Being cleansed by dahin is considered an ablution that washes away many sins.

For Indians, dahin sprinkled with spices is often also eaten as a dish with rice or with hot stuffed paranthas. And when made into a raita (thinned yogurt with added vegetables or dumplings), the dahin takes on a completely different flavor. Dahin is even used as an ingredient to marinade meats, in making gravies like in kaddi (fritters in sour curry) and a cooling summer drink.

Whole milk yogurt contains 81% water, 9% protein, 5% fat and 4% carbohydrates (including sugars). It is rich in vitamin B12 and riboflavin (B2), with moderate amounts of phosphorous, potassium and sodium. It is often associated as a probiotic which has positive effects on immune, cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Yogurt is produced by bacteria fermentation of lactose which produces lactic acid which, in turn, acts on milk protein to give yogurt its texture and tang. Yogurt can be made from milk from water buffalo goats, ewes, mares, camels and yaks and results are quite different whether the milk is homogenized or not. First the milk is heated to about 185 deg F to denature the proteins, then it is allowed to cool to 113 deg F, the culture is mixed in and the milk is allowed for ferment, undisturbed, for four to seven hours at 113 deg F.

Most homemade yogurt uses this tried and true method, but a modern cooking appliance, the microwave, can assist in making yogurt so much faster and easier. You don’t have to wrap the mixture to keep it warm and the yogurt is sure to ferment and form.



4 cups saada doodh (whole milk) – or low fat, if desired
2 tbsp dahin (plain yogurt) – for the starter



1. Pour two tablespoons of water in a pot to coat it, preferably one with a heavy base, then pour the milk in.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Once the milk is lukewarm to the touch, pour in the starter, mix in thoroughly and pour in a microwave bowl.
5. Now cover the bowl with a lid, and place it in the microwave and heat on full power for 50 seconds.
6. After the timer has run out, leave the liquid in the microwave and let it sit undisturbed for at least 7 hours.
7. Take the bowl out and check the dahin: it should be well-formed, curdled and ready to serve. You can keep a small amount as a starter for the next batch of yogurt.




Boiling milk can be tricky business and you have to keep an eye out so that it doesn’t boil over. And if you leave it on high and forget it, chances are that the milk will stick to the bottom and give off a burnt smell which will run through the rest of the milk so that you usually have to throw it away. And cleaning the pot later is a difficult chore!

To avoid this, I have found that if you first place a small piece of china on the bottom of the pot before pouring the milk, this will keep the milk from sticking to the bottom and burning. Keep the heat very low and occasionally stir the milk while getting hot in order to move the portion that is closest to the heat. When a thin skin forms over the top and starts to puff up, this means the milk is ready to boil. You can leave the china in the pot and remove it after the milk has cooled down.


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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