A few years ago, when I was teaching Food Safety at a Community College, a discussion started about good old yoghurt. I went on to describe the method of making yoghurt at home and how I grew up eating yoghurt every single day. One of the student made a comment “Oh my god, are you saying that yoghurt is spoilt milk! I am never going to eat yoghurt ever again”. When writing this post, I can visualize her expressions. It was quite funny and the entire class burst into laughter. Some good memories!
Regardless of whether yoghurt is spoilt milk or fermented milk with some healthy bacteria I love yoghurt and use it in a variety of ways in my cooking daily. Before sharing my 10 best ways of using yoghurt I thought it may be helpful for all of you reading this post to understand the types of yoghurt that you commonly find in grocery stores.
- Balkan-style or Set-style Yogurt
The warm cultured milk mixture is poured into containers then incubated without any further stirring. Balkan-style or set-style yogurt has a characteristic thick texture and is excellent for enjoying plain or using in recipes.
- Swiss-style or Stirred Yogurt
The warm cultured milk mixture is incubated in a large vat, cooled and then stirred for a creamy texture, often with fruit or other flavourings added. Swiss-style or stirred yogurt is often slightly thinner than Balkan-style or set yogurt and can be eaten as-is, in cold beverages or incorporated into desserts.
- Greek-style Yogurt
A very thick yogurt that is either made from milk that has had some of the water removed or by straining whey from plain yogurt to make it thicker and creamier. Greek-style yogurt tends to hold up better when heated than regular yogurt, making it perfect for cooking. It is also referred to as Mediterranean or Mediterranean-style yogurt and is often used for dips such as Tzatziki. A Balkan-style yogurt that has 6% M.F. or more makes an excellent substitute for Greek-style yogurt.
I took this information form the Dairy Goodness website. You can read more details about yoghurt here:
Now let us get to the real stuff. These are some of my favorite ways to add yoghurt for your daily meals.
- Savory Yoghurt and vegetables as a snack: Surprised! Savory Yoghurt? Yes, you read it right. In India, a variety of vegetables are added to yoghurt. Some examples:
- chopped tomatoes, cucumber and onion
- Onion only
- Tomato only
- Roasted eggplant
- Grated cucumber and mint
- Mint only
- Grated cucumber only
- Fried okra
- Grated carrots and green onions
- Grated carrots
- Cooked spinach
- Boiled potato
- Cooked and grated bottle gourd
- Roasted beets, carrot, green pepper and onion
Season with some salt, pepper and cumin powder. You could even make a big batch for the entire week. Comes in very handy. Makes an excellent snack when you come back from work and are starving.
- Yoghurt as a marinade for chicken, fish and shrimps: Instead of using sour cream, try yoghurt. It gives a nice tangy taste. You could probably use it for beef as well. I have not tried it, since I do not eat beef. Here is my recipe:
4 chicken breasts, 1 cup yoghurt – 2% works well, 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon of ginger, 2 green chillies (can omit if you do not like spicy food), tandoori masala (available in international section of most grocery stores), 1 tsp salt, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon any vegetable oil.
Place all ingredients in a freezer bag and marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator and then cook in the oven or BBQ. If you wish you can also freeze the marinated meat. Marinated meats freeze very well – up 6 months (http://www.eatrightontario.ca/EatRightOntario/media/ERO_PDF/en/Food%20Safety/Food_Handlers_Storage_Guide_2005.pdf).
When freezing, use freezer bags (and not zip lock bags) or freezer safe containers to avoid freezer burn. Be sure to defrost before cooking. Take out from the freezer at least 24 hours ahead and place on the lower shelf in the refrigerator to thaw and then cook as usual. Pair the meat with any of the above savory yoghurt recipes along with some naan or pita bread. Now that is a luxurious meal!
- Yoghurt sandwiches: This one you want to eat fresh. A great choice over grilled cheese sandwiches. Use the savory yoghurt recipe and as a sandwich filling. Cook on a pan just like a grilled cheese sandwich. I will recommend to only use Greek/Balkan yoghurt since you do not want a runny spread. Have a fruit along with it and that makes a fantastic snack or even a weekend breakfast. Also, makes a wonderful addition to the cuisine of a vegetarian.
- Use as a substitute for mayonnaise in your salad dressing: when you use yoghurt, you are cutting down on calories and adding lean protein to your meals. You could even use Greek yoghurt. A quick recipe for you:
1 cup boiled chick peas (canned will work well), ½ cup thick yogurt, 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped onions, chopped peppers (red, yellow, orange etc.), tomatoes, any other vegetable you like, salt, pepper, chilli powder to your taste. You can add ¼ -1/2 tsp of vinegar of you like. Chill and enjoy.
- Coleslaw sandwiches: Use Greek yoghurt instead of mayonnaise in your coleslaw sandwiches. All you need to do is substitute the mayonnaise with Greek yoghurt. Add some salt, sugar, vinegar and a dash of pepper. Mix with shredded cabbage and make your sandwiches. Some times I even add grated carrot. You could even go half and half. It works well. If you would like to carry this as a packed lunch, carry the bread and slaw mix separately so you can make the sandwich at work. Pairing with a soup will make a lovely lunch.
- A great alternative to cream cheese: You can make this in bulk. Place regular, Balkan or Greek yoghurt over a cloth lined strainer for 2 hours. Add some olive oil, lemon zest, salt, pepper, chives, thyme, tarragon and basil to the thickened yoghurt, and let the flavors blend. Use this as a dressing, sandwich spread or even a marinade. The water that gets strained can be used in cooking soups e.g. tomato soup or butternut squash soup.
- Topping for pancakes/waffles/crepe: Mix in honey or maple syrup, chopped fresh or frozen fruit, a dash of cinnamon to regular plain or Greek yoghurt to make a delicious topping. My salivary glands are very active right now!
- A fresh yoghurt drink: can be enjoyed sweet or savory.
For those sweet taste buds: mix ½ cup plain yoghurt with 1-1.5 tsp rose syrup and ½ cup water. Mix well and enjoy. You can also add rose syrup to milk for refreshing drink.
For the savory taste buds: ½ cup plain yoghurt + ½ cup water, salt, pepper, cumin powder. You could also add some fresh mint or cilantro. This makes a refreshing drink. You could even try pink salt instead of regular table salt. The taste is entirely different.
- Nachos and dip: Mix plain yoghurt with mashed avocado. Add your seasonings and salsa. And there you have it. Enjoy with toasted pita or tortilla chips.
I found this neat recipe if you wish to give it a try:
Super-Greek Nachos with Yogurt Sauce
- Pita chips
- 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
- 1 tsp. Dak’s Super Greek Seasoning (you could use any greek seasoning that is easily available to you)
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (we used 0%)
- 1 Tbsp. chopped dill, plus more for topping
- 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives
- 4 oz. fresh Feta cheese, crumbled
- English cucumber, chopped
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
- In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil, half of the garlic, Dak’s Super Greek Seasoning, salt, pepper, and chickpeas. Stir every 1-2 minutes for about 15 minutes, or until chickpeas are cooked through, and remove from heat. Add half the lemon juice and toss.
- Prepare the yogurt sauce: in a bowl, combine Greek yogurt, dill, the remaining garlic, remaining lemon juice, red wine vinegar, remaining olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix until combined.
- On a platter, assemble the nachos: create a base layer of pita chips, and top with grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onion, chickpeas, and cucumber, alternating between layers of pita. Top with feta and fresh herbs, and drizzle yogurt sauce over the top. Serve with yogurt sauce on the side as well.
Recipe Source: https://hatchery.co/super-greek-nachos-with-yogurt-sauce/
- Low fat butter chicken: I saved the best for the last. Marinate chicken as in point no 2. Cook in oven or BBQ. Now make the gravy: Chop 1 medium onion and stir fry with garlic – for about 5 minutes or until they appear soft. Add 4 large chopped tomatoes and cook for another 5 – 7 minutes. Place the entire mix in a blender and run on high speed. Now strain this mixture through a soup strainer (this could be painful – I pour my mixture into the strainer and leave it for about 30 minutes, occasionally stirring it up). After straining, return to fire and cook until the mixture boils. Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Now take 1 cup plain yoghurt and mix with water. Add this mix to the boiling gravy. Season with some salt, red chilli powder if you like, 1 -1/2 tbsp sugar. Cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add juice of 1 lemon and the cooked chicken. Cook for another 10 minutes and you are done. Sometimes I add chopped green pepper towards the end. You can even add some fresh cilantro.