It has become very popular to buy readymade curd these days. There are many things going for it. It is convenient, well set, smooth, thick and tastes divine. There are a few issues, however, which just kills it for me. It leaves a plastic trail, isn't exactly economical, the ingredients which make it so firm look suspicious and the fear of plastic leachates in curd are a put-off.
I have always seen curd being made at home. It looked as easy as 1-2-3 when Mom did it in hot Rajasthani summers but became as tricky as solving Rubiks's cube when I tried it in cold climes of Europe. Now in Bangalore, I set my own curd and though it doesn't come as thick as ready ones, it's pretty good. The procedure is easy.
500 ml milk
1 tablespoon curd
1. Boil milk. Let it cool till it is lukewarm. To test the temperature, dip a finger in milk and count till ten. If you are able to hold your finger comfortably, it is the right temperature. If you can't, wait further.....hum a song, drink some water, take deep breaths....(Trust me, after a few times it would be enough to dip your finger for a second to judge the right temperature) If the milk is not warm enough to begin with, reheat it and follow the above procedure again.
2.Transfer milk into a bowl. You can use steel, glass, ceramic or clay bowl. (Of course, you can use plastic but it isn't my favorite material on earth so I'll give it a miss.)You can also set it in individual ready-to-serve mini bowls or katoris.
3. Add a spoonful of curd and mix nicely. Consider mixing it by transferring from one container to another.
4. Cover it and keep undisturbed for 6-8 hours in a warm corner. Setting time would depend on the climate you live in. If you live in a cold climate, read the tips given below.
5. Open the lid and voila, curd is ready! You can eat it straight away, refrigerate it, strain it....the options are endless.
1. If you use buffalo milk, you will get thick and chunky curd like the ready variety.
2. You can make flavoured curd by adding a little of fresh fruit pulp like strawberry and mango. Add pulp after point number 2 and follow the rest of the procedure.
3. If you live in a cold climate, place the bowl inside a casserole. Cover the casserole with a thick towel or a woolen cloth. Alternatively, heat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 2 minutes. Switch off and put the container inside the oven with lights on.
What can go wrong:
At times, your dream curd won't set. Here's what can go wrong and how to fix it.
Curd isn't firm even after 12 -15 hours - It will be in a trishanku semi-solid state. Neither milk, nor curd.
Use this curd to make semolina uttapams. In future, add the curd in larger quantity at a slightly higher temperature. Practice will make you perfect. Try on small batches.
Curd is stringy or slimy - It has set in a semi-solid state with strings in it. Did you use a culture from store-bought yogurt? Use a starter culture from someone who sets homemade curd. As to what to do with this curd? Back to semolina uttapams!
Curd is too sour - Curd has set well but has become too sour. Maybe, it was left out for too long. Use it for making kadhi, handava, chaach or those semolina uttapams :)
For recipes with curd, check out my cookery blog. Enjoy your eco-friendly dahi!