When we were growing up, our grandmother made almost everything from scratch – yoghurt, paneer (Indian cheese), curries, stir fries, soups, bread, pickles, desserts and even crisps at one point. We say almost, and that was only because she didn’t have room for farmyard animals, if so, we’re sure she would collect her own milk and eggs before whipping up the daily omelettes for her husband, children and grandchildren. Everyday, she would rise early in the morning, make herself a cup of chai and get to work. She would start to prepare the roti dough, kneading and adding water intuitively before setting it aside under an old cheesecloth. Then she would soak lentils to make dal, chop vegetables for perhaps a saag or some other curry and make yoghurt. And all this before 9am, when she would decide we’d all slept enough and it was time for us to start our day.
In a way, every lunchtime was a huge event made up of 2 or 3 main dishes, bread or rice, yoghurt, salad and pickle – but in another way, it was totally usual to eat a variety of completely home cooked foods. For those of us who have full-time jobs, the sheer effort and time that she put in – particularly to make kitchen staples – would put us off. We’re too busy, we’re too tired, we say, and why don’t we leave it up to the professionals? Well, we could, but making some of these is so satisfying and actually very do-able even with limited time.
Take for instance, homemade yoghurt – it involves very few ingredients, a basic technique and doesn’t need to be watched all the time. It’s healthy and you could make all kinds of varieties – you could add fruit and nuts as we have done, granola, muesli, jam or honey, or add savoury items such as seeds, za’atar and olive oil as you do in the Middle East. And best of all – as with all processed foods – you don’t have to worry about the preservatives, thickeners and sugar that usually gets added to store-bought yoghurt.
Makes 2 portions
1 litre full fat milk
1 tbsp live yoghurt
1 peach, chopped
1 handful of walnuts
- Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan and gently heat (to avoid scalding) until it comes to a rolling boil.
- Turn off heat and leave pan to cool down until the milk is lukewarm (we test this by placing a clean finger into the milk for a few seconds without being burnt!).
- Preheat your oven to about 100 degrees C and then turn off when the oven is warm.
- Mix in the tablespoon of yoghurt and stir to fully incorporate.
- Cover the sauce pan with a lid and wrap a towel around the pan to insulate it.
- Place the saucepan into the warmed (and turned off) oven and leave for at least 8 hours.
- Once the yoghurt has formed, pour into a clean bowl through three layers of muslin/cheesecloth. Secure the muslin around the bowl so that the yoghurt may drip into the bowl for an extended period.
- Place saucepan in the fridge, until the yoghurt is thick.
- Once the yoghurt is thick, transfer into a jar for storage in the fridge. You can keep the resulting whey in the bowl to add to soups/homemade bread dough/smoothies if you’re feeling thrifty!
- Then when you’re ready for a yummy breakfast/dessert, place the chopped peaches into a bowl and dollop the yoghurt on top of it. Sprinkle with walnuts and enjoy!
So what do you think? Feel free to share your questions and comments below! We’d love to hear what you have to say.