How to make yogurt at home, in five easy steps.
1. Start with the correct "jodan"
"Jodan" is what we call the little amount of yogurt that cultures and sets the full thing. For yogurt to turn out thick and tasty, the foundation – its jodan – has to be right. I generally save some jodan from my previous batch of yogurt but if you don’t have any handy and live in India, I can suggest Nestle’s plain white yogurt. I have tried other brands like Britannia and Amul – they taste great on their own but don’t work as well when used as "jodan". Other options: the local dairy, or borrowing a bit off your neighbours.
A tablespoon of "jodan" to set curd between half a liter to a liter.
2. Get milk at the right temperature
Bring half a liter of milk to a boil, reduce and simmer for five more minutes, then switch off the heat and allow it to cool till about 45-50C (around 115F). You can get an idea of the temperature by testing it on your fingers – it should be comfortably hot, not scalding. If it is winter (i.e. the room temperature is lower), keep the milk a couple of degrees higher than in summer.
3. Mix the milk with the jodan
Blend the jodan well with the milk in the container in which it’s going to be set. I don’t skim the cream off as I like my yogurt creamy, but if you’re watching your weight go ahead and skim.
Yogurt tastes best when set in a wide earthenware clay pot. If you own one, awesome. If not, any wide mouthed container with a lid will do.
4. Let it stand
Cover the container and let the yogurt mix stand undisturbed at room temperature for around 7 hours if the temperature around is cool, and less if hotter.
In a summer like ours, yogurt sets quickly and begins to sour if left to culture too long. I suggest setting yogurt when you are around to take regular peeks after the 5-hour mark. Refrigerate as soon as the yogurt sets.
In winter, cover the yogurt mix while it’s setting with a thick towel or cloth to lock in the heat.
To test that the yogurt is ready, nudge the container very gently. Do not put a spoon in.
Refrigerate your freshly made yogurt for a few hours before digging into its cool white goodness.
Homemade yogurt works as an all-purpose accompaniment with any Indian meal. It’s especially good at balancing out the heat of spice-laden curries. Have it on the side with rajma masala and rice, or along with with khichdi. When you’re feeling more adventurous, turn homemade yogurt into a raita.