Yogurt is the magic ingredient in a thick, silky, and nutritious authentic Indian curry. When making a curry from scratch, recipes may ask for a variety of creamy ingredients that will not curdle when cooked, but yogurt is among the best and is known for curdling.
While most Western chefs use yogurt fresh for sweets or drinks, Indian chefs use it to soften the meat, as a souring agent, and as a basis for softly textured curries. Yogurt is also used in desserts and to make homemade buttermilk in India. Naturally, this drives home cooks to ask – can you use Greek yogurt in curry?
Yogurt is often consumed outside of the home in India. For example, the Dahi Handi festival, commemorated in Northern India, is a boisterous and majestic celebration of Lord Krishna. Yogurt is hung up high like a piñata in a terra-cotta basin.
While the Indian curry cooks, the yogurt is usually hung or let drain. This removes the water content of the yogurt, resulting in a thick and creamy whey-like yogurt.
Yogurt-based dishes are best consumed fresh—they’ll only last a few days in the fridge. Freezing yogurt-based foods is not suggested because the texture changes when frozen.
When Should I Add Yoghurt to a Curry?
Yoghurt curdles when the temperature goes up too quickly, so the secret is to add it carefully and on low heat to your curry. Acidic additives, such as lemon juice or vinegar can also induce the yogurt to curdle; add your yogurt at the end to keep the yogurt from becoming denaturized.
Heat, salt, and acid are all external factors that cause the protein in yoghurt to denature, causing it to curdle or form curds. When the warmth of the yoghurt dish rises too quickly, a chemical process occurs that causes the proteins to separate from the fats, causing the yogurt to curdle.
When adding the yogurt to your curry, you want there to be a few differences in temperature as possible to avoid the harmful chemical reaction of curdling. To accomplish this, lower the temperature of your dish by placing it on low heat or even taking it off at medium heat.
High temperatures are the most prevalent cause of curdled yoghurt. Tempering your meal is a superb method to avoid this. This is a time-honored method that many Indian cooks have utilized and passed down through generations.
After the temperature has cooled, add the yoghurt a tablespoon at a time, stirring gently until the yoghurt is completely incorporated before adding a spoonful. Alternatively, you may do this the other way around by adding the cooled liquid from your meal to the yoghurt in a room temp bowl, one spoonful at a time.
Why Is Yogurt Used in Indian Cooking?
While most Western chefs use yogurt fresh for sweets or drinks, Indian chefs use it as a souring agent, to tenderize meat, and as a basis for softly textured curries. Yogurt is also used in desserts and to make homemade buttermilk in India.
Making yogurt from old milk increases the protein, health benefits, and flavor; with all those sacred cows blocking traffic, there’s a lot of milk going on. This is the most excellent thickening for Indian curry.
The cooling properties of lactose in yogurt alleviate even the most acute vindaloo burns. The traditional beverage of India, lassi, is generally made with yogurt and is used to cure vindaloo burns.
Most Indians are vegetarians, and whole-milk yogurt provides the protein, calcium, and fat they require to keep going. Also, mixing your rice and curry with yogurt allows you to pick it up and eat it with your fingers, which is how Indians eat rice.
Does Yogurt Thicken Curry?
It might be aggravating to prepare a delectable curry to have the sauce turn out watery. Good thing that yogurt may thicken your curry while also adding a creamy flavor to your dinner.
The best sort of yogurt to use is full-fat Greek yogurt when making curries. The distinction between regular yogurt and Greek yogurt is that the Greek yogurt has been strained, removing much of the whey.
Straining your yogurt raises the fat content relative to the protein ratio. If you do not strain the yogurt and leave the whey in, it is more prone to curdle when exposed to heat and acid.
However, because you’ve strained your yogurt, the fat content covers, thus protecting the protein from heat or acid; therefore, the more fat there is, the less likely it is to curdle. Save your low-fat or nonfat yogurt for smoothies or salad dressings, where they will be relished and easier to incorporate.
A spoonful of flour per cup of yogurt is all that is required. Remember that if you add too many, you may accidentally thicken your sauce, but you can always add additional yogurt to level it out and obtain the perfect consistency.
Another option for preventing curdling is to stabilize the product. If you prefer low-fat yogurt or if that’s all you have in the fridge, stabilization is an excellent method to utilize when cooking curry.
Stabilizing yogurt is performed with cornstarch or flour before incorporating it into your recipe. Like the increased saturated fats of Greek yogurt, the cornstarch or flour binds to the proteins and protects them from denaturing, preventing your meal from curdling.
What Does Yogurt Do in Cooking?
Yogurt’s enzymes aid in breaking down proteins, which tenderizes meat and fish. A teaspoon or more makes an ideal marinade for Middle Eastern flavor profiles.
Yogurt’s sour, rather than sweet flavor and deep creaminess set it apart from most of these options, and it is one of the best materials to use in a curry. It’s also lower in calories and fat than most heavy creams, making it a better choice.
It all differs on your inclinations and what you have in the pantry, but the benefit of alternative ingredients is that there are options to fit everyone’s diet and palate.
Each region of India employs many varied procedures and ingredients to prepare curries. However, yogurt is far more customary in North Indian cooking, while coconut cream or milk is more common in South Indian recipes.