Greek yogurt, frozen yogurt, yogurt in smoothies—everyone today knows and loves at least one form of yogurt. It is prepared by adding a number of types of harmless bacteria to milk, causing it to ferment and thicken, giving it its characteristically tangy flavor. Cow's milk is the most common type used, but goat, sheep or buffalo's milk are also suitable.
Thanks to its wide range of flavors and creamy texture, yogurt works well in a lot of cooking applications and can be used most times in buttermilk, sour cream, or crème fraîche. From creamy dips to lusciously moist cakes to succulent fried chicken, there are tons of ways to incorporate yogurt into your cooking, but first, there are some general yogurt tips that one has to keep in mind:
- Full fat yogurt is best, for both cooking and eating, because more fat means more flavor.
- If you are adding it to a dish, it is suggested you opt for an unsweetened flavor but the ultimate decision lies in your hands.
- Low-fat and no-fat yogurts will work well for cold applications such as dips, but in case of baking, you would want all the flavor and richness to come from the regular version.
- Strained and Greek-style yogurt is fine to use in a dish but it is suggested to thin it out with a little water or milk to get that traditional yogurt consistency and heat it low and slow, so the yogurt does not curdle and separate.
Here are ways you could incorporate yogurt into your cooking:
Dips and dressings:
If you are a big chips or dip fan, then instead of opting for sour cream or crème fraîche, substitute yogurt into your favorite recipe for a tangy, creamy bite. Also, you can easily turn the yogurt dip into a creamy salad dressing by thinning it out with a little water/vinegar/oil to create a creamy dressing.
Soups: Stirring in yogurt into soups works particularly well for cold soups, like gazpacho. For hot soups, you will need to temper the yogurt to avoid curdling. Add a small amount of warm-but-not-boiling soup to a bowl, whisk in the yogurt, and then add the mixture back into the main soup.
Thanks to its calcium content, yogurt is a great ingredient for marinades, because it helps break down the enzymes in meat, adding flavor and moisture while tenderizing.
Yogurt can also make a delicious sauce. Instead of a compound butter or cream sauce, drizzle yogurt mixture over your steaks and roasts. This is particularly tasty with spice-rubbed meats such as stir fry’s as the yogurt provides some cooling relief to the heat.
If you love smoothies and crave for a creamier version, then substitute the milk in your go-to recipe for yogurt. Or try out the traditional Indian lassi—a shake-like drink that can be made with fruit, spices, and/or herbs.
Keep it sweet:
Yogurt can be easily substituted in cake, muffin, and sweet bread batters instead of sour cream. It also works in ice cream or sorbet batches. You can make your own frozen yogurt by adding in water and sugar syrup. Or you could keep it simple and serve with roasted fruit for a light dessert.
Chilled avocado and yogurt soup with tomato salsa
Halve and pit two large ripe but firm avocados. Set aside half an avocado for the salsa and put the remaining avocado flesh in a blender with 1 ½ cup buttermilk, 1 ½ cups yogurt, two heaping tablespoons chopped cilantro, one large thinly sliced garlic clove, ½ jalapeño chili with seeds removed, and ½ teaspoon tasted and ground cumin seeds.
Blend until smooth. Taste and add more chili if desired, and then blend again. Transfer to a bowl and stir in enough cold water to thin the soup to a pleasing consistency, about 1/2 cup. Stir in one tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste, and season with salt. Chill thoroughly.
Just before serving, prepare the salsa: In a bowl, stir together one large plum tomato, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into ¼ inch dice, ¼ cup finely minced white onion, two heaping tablespoons of chopped cilantro, ½ jalepeno chile with seeds removed for less heat if desired and finely minced, and one small finely minced garlic clove. Cut the reserved avocado half into 1/4-inch dice and fold it in gently, and then season to taste with salt and lime juice and stir again gently to avoid mashing the avocado.
If the soup has thickened in the refrigerator, whisk in ice water to thin it to the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning. Divide among 6 bowls. Top each serving with a spoonful of salsa and serve.