Yoghurt: Summer Saviour
Dahi, yoghurt, curd, thair – Any name you choose, this super food is found in nearly every household across India. A cooling snack, an addition to curries, raitas or even simple summery drinks, yoghurt is a versatile, delicious, nearly necessary part of our diets and kitchens.
One of our earliest memories of yoghurt used in cooking was at a scout camp from school where a friend used it to make an egg curry. Was it lovely! And every summer, the endless glasses of chaas and bowls of raita to cool us down.
To celebrate this superfood’s brilliant saviour like qualities, especially in this heat, here’s a list of our favourite recipes using yoghurt.
Raita with Ajwain Leaf
This is one of our favourites. Refreshing flavours, super cooling and so gentle. We found this recipe in a wonderful book about foods from around the country called First Food.
10-15 Ajwain Leaves
200 g Yoghurt
A pinch of Cumin seeds
One Cucumber, grated and squeezed
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
1/2 tsp Oil
Wash the leaves thoroughly. Heat oil in a pan. Add the peppercorns and cumin seeds and once they crackle add the ajwain leaves. As the leaves start to curl up and dry out, take the pan off the heat. Let it cool. Take about 4tbps of yoghurt and add it to the fried ajwain leaves and run it in the blender. Add this mix to the remaining curd, along with the grated cucumber, salt and sugar and mix well. Serve chilled.
Available in nearly every local Mumbai restaurant and in the summer months, at many street corners too. 1 cup of yoghurt combined with 2 cups of water, 1/2 a tsp of Cumin powder, a good pinch of black salt. Whisk everything together and chill until you’re ready to drink, garnished with a little chopped coriander. You could add 1/2 a tsp of mustard seeds tempered in hot oil but we’re happy to skip this step when the drink is already as flavourful as it is.
Similar to the Chaas, this is the Malayalee version of the drink made brilliantly fresh and delicious with the addition of 1 green chili and 1 inch ginger pounded in a mortar and pestle and added to the yoghurt and water along with salt and letting the flavours steep for a short while before straining and serving chilled with a couple of crushed curry leaves sprinkled over.
Thick, creamy, sweet, super satisfying on a hot afternoon. The best version we’ve ever had was on the streets of Jaipur and we’re forever looking for a recipe to replicate that. While we get closer and closer to the ideal, here’s a recipe that holds us in good stead. 2 cups of yoghurt with around 2 tbs sugar added (or more or less as you prefer) along with 1/2 a cup of milk and 2 tbs of cream (if you really want to go all the way)… all of this stirred together or for a really frothy, thick experience, run through a blender. Serve chilled. Additions such as cardamom, saffron, rose water are completely option. We love it plain and sweet.
Maharashtrian Baingan Bharta: The mix of softened eggplant and yogurt is a refreshing new flavour experience we hadn’t experienced until recently. Savory, fresh, bites of raw onion, coriander. Perfect. A colleague would bring this to work and we’d end up eating half his lunch. We got the recipe from his mother and it’s become a go to recipe for us.
1 large Eggplant, cut into large pieces. Heat oil in a pan and place the pieces in the pan and cover. Cook till dark brown and caramalised. Mash the cooked eggplant well and add in a finely chopped onion and a finely chopped green chili. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of yogurt to the eggplant. Add salt and sugar to taste. Add yoghurt to the onion and chilli mix.Add salt and sugar. Heat oil in a small pan, add 1/2 tsp mustard seed and 1/2 tsp cumin seed, a pinch of Hing, and some curry leaves. Pour this crackling tadka over the eggplant and yoghurt mix.
Doi Maach: A fragrant Bengali fish dish, a specialty during Durga Pujo and delectable all year round, here’s a special Doi Maach recipe shared by Sukanya Bose. It’s delicious! Get the recipe here.
Chilled Yoghurt and Cucumber Soup: This soup takes less than ten minutes to whip up and those fresh herbs, that cold yogurt, and crunchy, refreshing cucumbers cool your body down instantly. Get the recipe here.