Don’t Forget Your Cup of Curds
Curd or dahi is an everyday food in Indian households. Sometimes, it is used to make raita, curd rice and other recipes, or it is just enjoyed plain. In whichever form it is consumed, it is one of the favorite foods of people across the country.
While we know our dahi by the name of curd, people in other parts of the world usually call it yogurt. To them, curd is the soft solid mass left behind when you curdle milk (as in the process of making homemade paneer). So, when you travel abroad, ask for yoghurt at the shops and not for curds. However, in India, homemade dahi made with some random sample of curd with lactic acid or lactobacillus bacteria in it, is called as curd. Yogurt on the other hand is a commercial process of making curd with specific strains of lactobacillus bulgaris and streptococcus thermophiles bacteria. There is a lot of confusion between the two terms, namely curd and yogurt, but for the purpose of this article, we need not get into any technicalities and can comfortably refer to good old homemade dahi as curds!
Curds may be made with either cow’s milk or full-fat buffalo milk. Cow’s milk tends to be a bit watery while buffalo milk curd is thicker because of the higher fat content. If you have been advised to have curds for medicinal purposes, then cow’s milk curd is usually considered better. To make curds from milk, the milk is boiled and then cooled down till it is warm (not cold). Then, a sample of curd is mixed into the milk, and the mixture is allowed to ferment in a warm place for a couple of hours, or till the curds is set to a perfectly yummy consistency!
Six steps to make the perfect curd
1. Curd is made by adding a sample of curd (also known as curd culture, curd bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, etc.) to warm milk, and allowing the mixture to ferment in a closed container in a warm place till it sets firmly. In summer, it sets in around 5 hours; but in winter it takes longer, any time between 8 to 15 hours!
2. Curd sets faster when kept overnight in a warm place in a steel container.
3. At times, a pinch of sugar can be added to the milk before fermenting it, to make sure the resulting curd is not too sour.
4. Always cover the cultured milk with a lid, for it to set properly.
5. When adding the curd culture to the milk, make sure the milk is warm. If it is too cold, it will not set. If it is too hot, it will either curdle immediately or give you watery curds.
6. Use a whisk to combine the small curd sample with the milk, so that the sample disperses well and gives you a good thick curd.
7. The readymade ‘set curds’ available in India are often not useful as cultures to make homemade curd. So if you need a sample to make curds, try to buy natural curd from a local dairy or get a homemade sample from a friend.
Know more about your curds
Curd is used widely across the world. It is relished just plain, enjoyed with toppings, made into a raita or used in other recipes. Creamy hung curd is also used to make delicious mithai like Shrikand. Many people also enjoy having a glass of plain or spiced buttermilk with their lunch. It is refreshing, cools the body and aids in digestion.
2. Some recipes like raita and buttermilk require fresh curds, while others like dhokla, handvo, kadhi, etc., require sour curds.
3. Some recipes like Shrikand and sandwich spreads require hung curds. This is basically curd that is placed in a muslin cloth and hung from a hook or rod for at least one hour to drain the water completely. The resulting hung curd is really creamy and thick.
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5 Health benefits of curds
Curd is one of those awesome ingredients that are not just tasty but healthy too, so you can go ahead and have a cupful without any guilt, unless your physician has specifically advised you not to have it for some reason. Let’s tell you more about the wonderful effects of curd so that you will appreciate every spoonful from now on…
1. Curd improves digestion. It has very good bacteria that aid digestion in the gut. To further improve the digestive ability of curds, several commercial brands have probiotics added to their curd. Probiotics refers to good live bacteria, which soothe the stomach and improve digestion. So, if you are buying curds, look for a good brand of probiotic curds, to experience its additional benefits. Does homemade curd have these beneficial bacteria or not? Well, they do. However, homemade curd is not a standardized product. So, the strength or let’s say ‘population’ of bacteria differs from batch to batch and depending on the sample too. It is likely that some batches of curd have more bacteria and some have less. Add to this the fact that a lot of bacteria die before they reach the intestine, and we can never be sure whether the probiotic benefit is there or not. In commercial brands that are labeled specifically as probiotic, the strength of bacteria is high, so at least some of it is likely to reach the gut.
2. Curd is low in carbohydrates, so it is ideal for those on a low-carb diet
3. Loaded with calcium
, curd strengthens your bones.
4. It is also an excellent source of protein
5. Curd is good for your heart
. Being rich in potassium
, it helps balance the sodium levels in your body and controls high blood pressure
Almost everything about curd is good for you, and it is something you should try and include in your everyday diet. And that’s not a difficult deal, because it’s so tasty too!