Cooking with yoghurt
If you leave cow’s milk at 44 degrees celsius for a day or so you will get a velvety curd created by friendly bacteria causing fermentation and coagulation. Voila - you have yoghurt.
However, with commercially prepared yoghurt, nothing is left to chance. Essential live bacteria or active cultures, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, are deliberately added to milk in monitored amounts. These bacteria create a lactic acid medium in your intestine that aids in the absorption of protein, calcium and iron.
For centuries people have praised the attributes of yoghurt. Many claim it contributes towards longevity. In Bulgaria yoghurt is used extensively in cooking, in sauces, salads and meat and vegetable dishes and it was claimed that they had a higher percentage of people over the age of 90 than in the USA. However, when research sought a connection between the two, diet proved irrelevant — the elders were fibbing about their age.
We do receive about nine grams of animal protein per 175 grams of yoghurt plus calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins B2 and B12 — as found in other dairy foods. Also, according to the UK Dairy Council, the lactose content of yoghurt is lower than in milk because the bacteria digest most of it making it better tolerated by individuals with a lactose intolerance.
I like to make my own yoghurt using the pouches of powdered yoghurt — they store easily in the pantry. Just combine them with water and leave to stand overnight in a yoghurt maker — the one that looks like a vacuum flask.
Tangy yoghurt helps reduce the richness of liquid or whipped creams — stir in one or two tablespoons of yoghurt per cup of cream. Also, mix equal parts mayonnaise and yoghurt for an easy vegetable dressing; combine yoghurt with fruit purée, sweetened if desired, and freeze in ice block moulds.
A culinary blow torch should be used to transform the sugar into the toffee topping. Ensure the blue flame of the blow torch is right on the sugar so it crackles quickly. Make the yoghurt according to the instructions on the packet. A quick and yummy brulée. Makes 4
1 large banana, peeled and thinly sliced
1½ -2 cups thick & creamy crème brulée yoghurt (I made mine from Hansells yoghurt base)
½ cup sugar
- Place the banana in 4 single-serve heatproof ramekins or small soufflé dishes. Add the yoghurt. Smooth the top. Sprinkle evenly with the sugar.
- Using a blow torch, heat the sugar until it turns to toffee.
- The brulées may be refrigerated for up to an hour before the toffee starts to dissolve.
Yoghurt chicken curry
Great topped with additional yoghurt and chopped coriander. Serves 6
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, diced
2 bay leaves
400g can whole plum tomatoes in juice
4 cloves garlic
3cm piece root ginger, peeled and chopped
2 small chillies, seeded
½ teaspoon each: ground turmeric, paprika
1 kg skinned and boned chicken thighs, halved
2 red-skinned potatoes, cut into 2.5cm cubes
1 teaspoon honey
¼ cup thick and creamy Greek yoghurt
- Heat the oil on medium in a large, non-stick saucepan. Stir in the cumin seeds until they darken slightly. Add the onion and bay leaves and cook until the onion is soft.
- Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes reserving the juice. Place the tomatoes in a blender with the garlic, ginger, chillies, turmeric and paprika. Blend until smooth.
- Add to the onion mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and potatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Make the tomato juice up to 1 cup with water and add to the chicken with the honey. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and chicken are cooked. Stir in the yoghurt and serve.
¾ cup Greek yoghurt
¼ cup each: parsley, mint leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon each: honey, lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 x thick venison steaks
1-2 tablespoons rice bran oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Combine the sauce ingredients. Refrigerate if you wish but the sauce is best served at room temperature.
- Pat the steaks dry, bush with oil and sprinkle with black pepper.
- Heat the remaining oil in a heavy ridged frying pan. Pan-fry the steaks on medium high for about 3-4 minutes each side, until medium rare. Rest for 3-4 minutes before serving with the sauce.
Lemon yoghurt cake
1 cup each: canola oil, caster sugar
1 cup thick, plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
2 cups self-raising flour
½ cup mixed dried peel
1 cup sifted icing sugar
¼ - ⅓ cup plain yoghurt
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly oil and line the base of a 21-23cm springform cake pan with baking paper.
- Beat the oil and caster sugar until light. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the yoghurt and lemon rind.
- Fold in the flour until just combined. It should still be a little lumpy, similar to a muffin mixture. Fold in the dried peel.
- Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan.
- To prepare the icing, combine the icing sugar with enough yoghurt to make it easily spreadable. Add the vanilla essence. Spread over the cake. Best stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.