Another Indian summer is here and it is wise to be prepared to fend off the accompanying dehydration, loss of energy and appetite. At such times, the body needs something to cool it down without being a burden on the digestive system. This is where the humble yogurt plays a stellar role. Incorporated in virtually every regional cuisine of the country, this dairy product is thick and creamy, yet simultaneously light and tangy. Delicious by itself, yogurt is extremely versatile while also being a true health food. Not only does it have cooling properties, it is high on calcium, protein and other essential vitamins. Further, being a dairy product it is mostly natural and unprocessed.
Its white, subtle taste makes it a great canvas to play around with. A dusting of toasted cumin powder, a sprinkle of za’tar or a dollop of fresh harissa instantly transforms an unassuming dairy product into a gourmet ingredient ready for use in sandwiches or as a garnish. Try smearing some full fat yogurt between slices of crusty multi-grain bread with fried garlic, grilled zucchini and sun dried tomatoes for a flavourful snack.
Fresh herbs and yogurt is a classic way to up the flavour and nutritional quotient of both. The yogurt adds the creamy touch while mint, coriander and dill provide a zesty bite that makes for a great dip with toasted pita, chips or even vegetable crudités. The Greek Tzatziki is another yogurt-herb dip boosted with cool cucumbers, pungent garlic and fresh lemon. Another great dip recipe is to add caramelized onions and garlic to thick curd. Such yogurt based accompaniments are perfect at lightening traditional dips of the usual sour cream and veg mayonnaise. For a thicker texture in the yogurt, scoop into a thin, clean muslin cloth and hang for a few hours, letting the whey collect in a bowl below. (This whey is highly nutritious and can be added to other dishes in lieu of water during cooking.) This hung curd, when whipped and seasoned can also replace mayo in dressings for Russian salad, potato salad, coleslaw and many others.
One crucial component to the balance of an Indian diet is that of raita; a side dish of grated or sliced veggies like carrots, cucumber, mint or fruits like pineapple, pomegranate enveloped in whipped curd. It acts as an excellent foil to the heat of spicy curries and aids digestion. In the summer just a bowlful of raita with bread or chapatti makes for a light, easy to prepare meal.
One of the advantages of having yogurt as an ingredient is that with a few twists here or there, it can move quickly between being a side dish, filling or dip to being a filling yet light breakfast or a quick dessert or snack. Like, a drizzle of organic honey with some freshly chopped Alphonso mango in a bowl of chilled, low-fat Danone yogurt would be a great breakfast. Or a cereal like Miss-i-sippy, sliced bananas, a pinch of brown sugar mixed into yogurt, all layered in a glass instantly makes for a healthy, textured and satisfying dessert. To raise the indulgence factor, coarsely crush some Oreo cookies and layer with raisins and chilled yogurt, all topped off with a generous pour of rich Hersey’s chocolate sauce.
Fruity yogurt has become a very popular way to consume this milk product. Easily available in a wide range of fruit flavours like Elle N Vire’s Apricot, Prune, Vanilla and Blackcurrant. These fruity, snack-style yogurts are great for eating light and healthy while on the go. Again adding cereal to a cup of fruit yogurt makes it breakfast in a pinch. Frozen yogurts too have captured public imagination, offering a healthier yet delightful alternative to traditionally high fat ice creams with a little tang characteristic of yogurt.
Even without the additional seasoning and flavours, it’s easy to see the appeal of this simple, essential ingredient. So go on and stock up on yogurt in all its forms to keep yourself and family healthy and happy this summer.
Also you can buy flavoured yogurt online from Natures Basket store at best prices!!