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There is nothing quite like the tangy taste of homemade yoghurt. And surprising as it may sound, it is both easy and economical to make, not to mention healthy, as it is believed to contain higher levels of beneficial bacteria than store-bought yoghurt. These bacteria improve digestion and reduce bloating – all the more useful in Ramazan, as people tend to overeat and then complain of stomach related ailments.

All you need is either three mugs of fresh, full cream milk, or two mugs of packaged milk, mixed with one mug of full cream, powdered milk (made twice as thick as usual with double the amount of required powder) and half a mug of fresh, plain, desi yoghurt.

Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat until it almost (but not quite) reaches boiling point. Remove from the stove and allow it to cool until just warm. Next, stir or whisk in the yoghurt. Pour the mixture into a bowl or container which has a tight-fitting lid or can easily be covered and sealed.

Stand it in a warm place for eight to 10 hours; if the yoghurt has not set by then leave it for longer. Once the yoghurt is properly formed, transfer it to the refrigerator. Set aside some to start off the next batch.

Plain yoghurt can be flavoured with chopped, fresh or dried fruit and nuts and served just as it is, or it can be frozen for use as a snack or dessert. It can also be turned into raita with the addition of finely chopped onions, chillies, tomatoes, crushed garlic, mint, thyme, basil or other herbs, plus a dash of salt and black pepper.

Natural yoghurt makes an excellent addition to cakes, biscuits, homemade bread, pancakes and soups as well as its more traditional uses in qormas and curries. And it is perfect for the Ramazan favourites, dahi phulki and dahi baray!

– B Khan

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on August 5, 2012.