Yogurt is a staple you will want to have on hand for cooking desi dishes. You can use it to make your curries creamer, as a base in your lassi, or as an accompaniment in raita chutney, among many other uses. 

I often asked my mom why she would make yogurt when we could easily buy a large tub of plain yogurt from the store. She would respond with a smile and ask if I like that distinct tangy taste in our dhai vadas. Then continue to explain that when you make yogurt at home you have more control over the flavor of the dish you’re making. As I tried out different brands of plain yogurt, I quickly realized how right she was in wanting to make yogurt from scratch.

Because I live in a colder climate, I need to create a warm place if I’m looking to ferment ingredients as a part of the preparation process. I’ve found that warming the oven to 150F for 10-15 minutes, then turning the oven off,  but leaving the oven light on, creates a warm environment to facilitate the fermentation process. This trick has helped me out multiple times and for now, I think it might be the easiest way to help ferment ingredients. 

This recipe does not specify which plain yogurt brand to use. Experiment yourself with different brands to make yogurt to your liking. I’ve tried organic brands, name brands, store brands, and desi store brands, and each gave me a slightly different final product. I lean towards a slightly tangier yogurt if I’m planning to use it in a desi dish like dhai vada or raita. If you’re running short on time, it might be easier to buy yogurt for efficiency, which is totally okay too. I cheat sometimes and buy yogurt when I’m in a rush too. But, for the days when you have more time, give this recipe a try.

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Homemade Yogurt

  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 4-6 hours
  • Yield: 2 cups yogurt 1x
  • Category: Basics

Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole or reduced fat milk
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt, whole or low fat

Instructions

  1. Bring milk to boil in saucepan over medium heat. Do not stir. It is okay if a skin forms on top.
  2. Once milk has boiled, mix in 2 tsp of water and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  3. After 10 minutes, turn off the stove, and let milk cool in pan for 30-45 minutes
  4. While the milk is cooling do the next few preparatory steps. 
  5. 1- Preheat oven to 150F and turn on the light. 
  6. 2- Fill 2 cup glass mason jar with hot water to help warm the jar. Leave this in the warm water while your milk is cooling
  7. 3- Beat yogurt in small bowl to smooth out lumps
  8. Pour out hot water from the mason jar, and dry jar. Set it over a small hand towel in a tray. 
  9. After the milk has cooled, but is still warm to touch, you may remove the skin from the top of the milk if you prefer.  Mix 2 tablespoons of milk into small bowl with yogurt to help warm the yogurt. 
  10. Pour the yogurt from small bowl into milk in saucepan and whisk to smooth out any lumps. 
  11. Pour warm milk mixture from saucepan into warm mason jar. Loosely close jar lid and wrap in towel
  12. Turn off the oven, but leave the oven and let yogurt ferment in oven for 4-6 hours.
  13. The longer you let your milk ferment the tangier it will be. Depending on what you’re planning to use the yogurt for, you may prefer a tangier taste.
  14. Once set, close jar lid completely and store in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.