Why should you prepare dahi at home?

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Why should you prepare dahi at home?

Post  Guest on Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:23 pm

...While the West treats yoghurt with curiosity, Indians have always regarded it as being an integral part of our tradition. Just as French cuisine would collapse without butter and the cuisines of Japan and China would be finished without the soya bean, so Indian cuisine would be nothing without dahi.

It is the one indigenous ingredient that unites the North and the South. If North Indians need lassi and raita, so South Indians need curd-rice or just curds by themselves. Meats are marinated in curd by all communities. We think of curd-marinades as being a Muslim innovation but the food historian KT Achaya points out that curd-based marinades are mentioned in the Arthashastra, which was written long before either Jesus Christ or the Prophet Mohammed were born.

In fact, says Achaya, the importance of curd in Indian cuisine dates back to prehistoric times. The Rig Veda mentions a curd rice dish. In Vedic times, curds were eaten as an accompaniment to rice. The first references to shrikand came around 500 BC (or even before the birth of the Buddha.) By 1000 AD, curd was regularly used in cooking. A fairly complex dish of vegetables cooked in spices and dahi and then finished off with a vaghar (baghar) of spices fried in oil is described as part of a banquet. Though the first references to dahi-wadas appear in 12thCentury, Achaya suggests that the dish may have originated even earlier. To realize the significance of these dates, you have to remember that many of the ingredients we now consider integral to Indian food: potatoes, chillis, tomatoes and even maida, did not get to India till the medieval or modern periods. In contrast curd is almost as old as India itself.

Which leaves us with the big question: why were Indians so adept at using curd when the West had no idea what it was? Some of this has to do with heat and cold. In Western countries, milk products that could be heated, such as cream were more popular. In India, on the other hand, we needed cooling foods to help us cope with the heat. So curd, which is not usually heated, was more useful than cream, which hardly features in Indian cooking.

But there is a second reason. In India, the healing power of foods has long been regarded as important and our diet incorporates many medicinal elements. I doubt if our ancient ancestors understood what bacteria were, but I imagine they had worked out that yoghurt helped with digestion. We know now that this is because the bacteria that turn milk into yoghurt also help fight infections in the intestine. In a hot country like India where stomach bugs were easy to pick up, yoghurt acted as an ancient antibiotic. That was why we rarely heated it (heat kills bacteria) and ate it as close to room temperature as possible.

That is a lesson that survived the millennia but one we now seem to be forgetting. Just as the rest of the world is discovering probiotics and the benefits of natural yoghurt, we have forgotten that our parents always made their own antibiotics. Fewer and fewer of us bother to make dahi at home any longer. Instead we buy the pasteurized (i.e. all bacteria destroyed) version from shops, not realizing that this has zero medicinal effect. It has got to the stage where foreign companies are even trying to flog us natural bacteria-filled yoghurt at inflated prices because they know that we have turned our backs on our own traditions.

So, do yourself a favour. Remember what your parents taught you and make your own dahi at home. You'll end up with good Indian yoghurt, not some fancy Bulgarian version that will make you live till 100 or turn you into a sex god.

But at least it will keep you healthy. And it will keep you touch with the oldest Indian culinary tradition of them all.


http://www.virsanghvi.com/Article-Details.aspx?key=851

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Re: Why should you prepare dahi at home?

Post  QB on Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:54 pm

in Amrika you get pasteuriazed milk so whatever dahi you make is gonna be pasteurised too...i thik this option is possible only in india.

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Re: Why should you prepare dahi at home?

Post  Guest on Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:06 pm

QB wrote:in Amrika you get pasteuriazed milk so whatever dahi you make is gonna be pasteurised too...i thik this option is possible only in india.


good point. you could try obtaining Kefir Yoghurt in Amrika.

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