Yoghurt

Yoghurt

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Yoghurt has a long history and reputation for promoting health and longevity. In the Middle East and India, yoghurt is part of the basic daily diet and is frequently used in cooking.

Yoghurt is a fermented milk product, with a pleasantly tangy taste and a smooth, refreshing texture. It can be made from cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk, full cream or skim. Flavoured and sweetened yoghurts are available commercially, as well as plain yoghurts, but the latter is easily prepared at home.

Ways to use yoghurt: Plain yoghurt may take the place of cream with an apple pie, steamed pudding or fruit salad; topped with honey and walnuts, in Greek fashion, it appeals to young and old; and it complements perfectly fresh berry fruits, such as strawberries and raspberries.

Yoghurt accompanies curries and Indian vegetable dishes, Middle Eastern dishes such as lentils and rice, or fried eggplant (aubergine). Meats and vegetables are often cooked in yoghurt, and yoghurt can serve as the base of a spicy marinade for chicken. Salads can be dressed with yoghurt dressing, or the same basic ingredients may be combined as a dip or spread, or even as a chilled summer soup. Hot vegetable soups can be enriched with yoghurt, and in summer yoghurt blended with water and garnished with mint makes a most refreshing and cooling drink (see Lassi).

Cooking with yoghurt: Yoghurt curdles if cooked for a long time, for example in recipes such as meatballs in yoghurt, or yoghurt soup. To prevent this, the yoghurt should be mixed with cornflour (cornstarch) – add 1 teaspoon cornflour mixed in a little cold water to every 375 g yoghurt – slowly brought to the boil and then allowed to simmer over very low heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, in one direction only, while bringing to the boil.

Home-made yoghurt: Either fresh or powdered milk may be used, full cream or skim. If you want yoghurt of a thick, junket-like consistency, evaporate some of the water from the milk by allowing it to simmer gently for about 20 minutes over low heat. Yoghurt needs a ‘starter’ for fermentation; use 2 tablespoons commercial or home-made plain yoghurt per 500 ml milk. Temperature is important for satisfactory fermentation to take place. If you have a thermometer, the milk should reach 45°C when it is cooled after heating and before the yoghurt starter is added.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

Note:

  • Automatic yoghurt makers, which keep the mixture at a constant temperature, can be used.

    Yoghurt cheese: If yoghurt is turned into a muslin- or cheesecloth-lined sieve and left to drain overnight, the result is a soft, creamy sort of cheese, called labna in the Middle East. It may be eaten as is, or flavoured with herbs, spices or garlic, or added to salads or vegetable dishes.

    Yoghurt cream cheese: For a creamier cheese combine cream with plain yoghurt before draining. The resulting soft cream cheese is delicious with fruit and has many other uses.

    Ways to use yoghurt cream cheese:

    Halve a small ripe melon, remove seeds, fill with a few spoonfuls of yoghurt cream cheese and sprinkle with a little brown sugar.

    Serve melon and yoghurt cream cheese without the sugar.

    Curl a few slices of prosciutto and serve with yoghurt cream cheese as a first course.

    Mound about 125 g yoghurt cream cheese on a dessert plate, mask with sweetened cream and surround with any fresh summer fruits, or sliced or halved stewed apricots, plums or peaches.

    Serve a bowl of yoghurt cream cheese with a square of guava paste or Quince Paste.

    Offer a little black pumpernickel bread or Scottish oatcakes with yoghurt cream cheese to be served in place of a cheese board.
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