It’s too hot and humid with power failure I was sweating like a hell. Though just few minutes before I took my shower. Having my last portion of lunch I was searching desperately for something in my fridge but actually I forgot to buy one. My all time favourite item which I can even take truckload if needed in any form. It is generally considered to cool the body in tropical climates.
I don’t know how and when exactly I developed taste for it. One of my favourite childhood food item was a heaping spoonful of it. I’d lick it like a lollipop until all traces of thick delectable were gone. As I got older, I use to mix it with portion of vegetable curry(s) as well lentils given to me beside the last course. Now also I regularly indulge and make sure to have it at last after two main meals. Without that it’s something incomplete for me. I hope you guessed it by now… yes, I am talking about yogurt known for its characteristic taste and consistency.
Being born and brought up in cosmopolitan town had known taste of India from my childhood. Due to the employment opportunities created by the Bhilai Steel Plant, people from all over the country flock here and the culture here provides a scintillating example of "Unity in Diversity".
We had a south Indian neighbour when I was a child. I used to love auntie’s food over my mom despite she tried her best to make best food which I never appreciated. Like the proverb says “ghar ki murgi daal barabar” (Self possessions are always undermined and other's possessions seem better). The memory still brings forth strong emotions when I think of it. I have one memory of eating this dish called Curd-rice as a small kid which Auntie used to prepare by mixing curd and rice with pinch of salt to taste if yogurt is bit tangy. For them it is common practice to finish any meal with curd rice. While our other neighbour was from North, so often used to have Raita - a special preparation with yogurt; normally served chilled. Though there are lot of variation in raita of which boondi is most common. Vegetable Raita involves adding grated cucumber and mint paste or using tomato, cucumber and onion raitas or diced carrots. Sometimes tempering it with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, channa & urad daal with pinch of asafoetida. Actually, Raita is good foil for spicy North Indian dishes like parathas, tandoori chicken, etc.
Now being born in bongo family we have Misti doi a thick sweetened yogurt which taste as sweet as pudding which is served and sold in earthern pot. Presently staying in western part, Shrikhand is taken in form of dessert made from strained curd. A soft muslin cloth is tied up and hung to drain all the water for a few hours from the curd. Sugar, salt, saffron, cardamom, diced fruit, raisins, and nuts are then added for its taste.
Apart from all these, curd is widely prepared at home where it has an important place in traditional cuisine. It can be made from a small amount of store-bought, plain, freshly cultured yogurt by adding lukewarm milk thoroughly. The quality of curd depends on the starter used. The time taken to curdle varies with the seasons taking less than 3 hours in hot weather and up to 10 hours in cold weather.
During our stay at Europe I use to wonder seeing one complete row on umpteen varieties of yogurt from fat-free to bio-organic in super-store. Not only natural and unflavoured yogurt but also yogurt with fruit, vanilla, chocolate and various other flavours are common. To offset its natural sourness, yogurt is often sold sweetened, flavoured, or in containers with fruit or fruit jam on the bottom. And when ever we travelled different parts of Europe we found different texture and taste for the same. It tastes completely different just across the border; in 2003 European Union debated to give a standardized name to yoghurt, but later abandoned that project.
Well well, wherever you go you will find curd; may be of different version in terms of taste and characteristics. So, while I have my daily dose of friendly bacteria you can certainly think on whether its worth to have or not.