Monday, 16 April 2012

Older the better, Yogurt Culture

Being back home is great. Of course there are a few downsides to moving back home with my mum… in Milton Keynes, but there are way more upsides… for example: my granddad is staying with us for a couple of weeks, due to an injury sustained from me encouraging him to walk a balancing beam in the park. Very foolish on both our behalves, but me more so. But anyways, he’s a pure vegetarian for religious, so that means no meat what so ever, including eggs. Dairy is fine. Garlic and onions, and any other vegetables from the onion family, like chives and leeks, are strictly prohibited also. Even worse… strictly no alcohol! As a family we all believe that the same food should be eaten around the dinning table, and so for this reason, the things that my granddad doesn't eat are also off limits to us. I found this to be rather frustrating at first, a great annoyance, especially for someone who likes to cook and eat whatever I feel like. I had a list of things I wanted to cook when getting back home since being in the Philippines… Like a Lamb Roast…. Oh….a lamb roast…. Gosh!… but, yeah, that’s not gonna happen for anther a while now…

…The up side? Being re-introduced to home-made Gujarati cooking… my MUM’s homemade Gujarati cooking. And oh my days, have I missed it (without even realising). I forgot about all those strange ingredients my mum used to get from the Indian grocers, like mulanggay pods, dudi (bottle gourd), methi (fenegreek leaves), tamerind, … the list of obscurity goes on and on. I think my absence away from my family has mad me appreciate my culture even more. I’m now paying attention to what’s happening in the kitchen when my mum cooks veggie Guju food, something I wouldn't have done five years ago.  My taste buds have been brought back to life with the flavours of my childhood. I’m now eating dishes I refused to eat as a little girl, always opting for the mac and cheese instead of split pea Khitchdi and potato curry…. Now I know.

The one thing I have grown to admire and love so very much is my mum’s home made Dahi (yogurt). She has been using the same yogurt culture for years, and ever since I can remember, there has always been a steel bowl of cool yogurt in our fridge, or a bowl of thriving bacteria sitting in our airing cupboard or microwave (which used to be an inconvenience when I was younger, but now is rather exciting). I don't have to tell you about the benefits of live yogurt on the digestive system, but I do have to tell you, home-made yogurt with active pro-biotic is a whole lot better then the stuff you buy in the supermarket in plastic tubs. Doesn't take a genius to figure out why.

There is a misconception that yogurt is difficult to make, I don't know why exactly… I think anything involving LIVE bacteria can be scary, like bread… people are very sacred of baking bread. But trust me, making yogurt is a lot less scary then bread-making. And it’s super duper easy, once you’ve made your own yogurt and you continue doing so every time, the culture just gets better and better and better!

2 tbsp Yogurt Culture – either borrowed of someone who makes yogurt at home already, or the last 2 tbsp of old, sour yogurt from a bought brand. It’s vital the yogurt is pro-biotic
1 ½ Pint of Full Fat Milk

Heat the milk in a heavy based sauce pan, non stick preferably so the milk doesn't burn. Don't allow the milk to simmer - turn the heat off as soon as the milk starts to steam and bubbles begin to form around the edge of the saucepan.

Leave to cool down for about 20mins. Ideally, the yogurt should still be warm. If you have a thermometer, the ideal temperature should be about 46°. Stir in the yogurt culture, cover and leave in a warm place (airing cupboard is pretty good) for about six hours, or overnight. Once alive, place in the fridge, and consume when cool.

Yogurt’s cooling properties are really great and super effective. It can be used to make refreshing drinks on a hot day by simply whisking with some water and rose extract if you have some, otherwise some honey and cardamom is equally delicious. You can even make frozen yogurt! But today for lunch, I made a Turkish yogurt and feta dip with mint and cayenne, and also an Indian yogurt dip with crushed cumin and coriander powder, topped with toasted sesame seeds and green chillies. This was to be accompanied by some old Indian flat bread, and some stale wholegrain brown bread that needed to be consumed.

I really would like to encourage people to make yogurt instead of buying it, it saves a great deal of money as yogurt can be rather expensive now days, as most health foods are. You will eat more of it, but that does no harm what so ever… just remember to keep some behind for the next batch!

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