March 13, 2012
Today’s recipe is short, simple, and perfect for a weekend brunch/breakfast. It’s inspired by shrikhand, a Gujrati dessert that holds a special place in the memory file of my childhood. My version is not really a dessert, as it’s barely sweetened, but more like a variation on a fruit salad. We’ve served it a few times to friends, and they’ve raved; the best part is that you can prepare the components ahead of time, then let everyone assemble their own bowl when it’s time to eat.
I make my own yogurt to use here, but you don’t have to. If you are interested in learning how to make your own yogurt, I highly encourage you to give it a whirl. You do NOT need a “yogurt maker,” just milk, a yogurt “starter,” and basic kitchen equipment. After a few hit-or-miss tries, you will easily get the hang of the timing/temperature business and be thrilled to discover that your homemade yogurt is more delicious and a whole heck of a lot cheaper than the store-bought variety.
There are tons of recipes and methods out there, some way more complicated than they need to be if you ask me—then again, I learned using the “finger test” (as opposed to a thermometer) and the descendant of a yogurt culture my mom smuggled from India some twenty years ago. This post from The Kitchn breaks down the yogurt-making process quite simply, and pretty well parallels what I do, just with more precision. No matter what method you try, be sure to use at least 2% milk to achieve a thick texture.
I’ve been making homemade yogurt consistently the last few years—I got Jill hooked (she loves hers in a big bowl with two smushed up bananas), and eat some myself almost every day. I also love using yogurt in baked goods and smoothies, and we use thick, strained yogurt in place of sour cream and don’t even miss the latter.
But that’s enough yogurt proselytizing for one night. I hope everyone is doing well as we come upon mid-March (when the heck did that happen?). Sunday I leave for Washington, D.C. with 60 eighth graders and five fellow chaperones; please pray for us. I’ve got a special guest post lined up while I’m away!
Note: “hanging” or draining the whey from the yogurt will considerably reduce its volume, so take into consideration when planning how much to serve. I find that planning on ½ cup of yogurt (pre-drained) per person is about right.
2 cups whole-milk or 2% yogurt
2 T honey—feel free to bump up if you’d like your yogurt sweeter
½ to 1 tsp. ground cardamom—I like I lot, but then again, I’m brown
pinch saffron threads
assorted fruit, seeds, and/or nuts of your choice: apple, strawberry, blueberry, orange segments, banana, mango, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, etc.
The day before you plan to serve the yogurt, line a colander with a cheesecloth and measure the yogurt into it. Gently gather the cheesecloth around the yogurt to form a ball, tying or rubber-banding the excess cloth at the top. If you can, hang the cheesecloth bundle from your kitchen sink faucet, letting the whey from the yogurt drain out and through the colander—you can also just let the bundle sit in the colander, lifting and applying pressure occasionally.
(I like to place a bowl underneath the colander, saving the whey for all kinds of uses!)
Allow the yogurt to drain for at least one hour, longer if you want a thicker product, as I do when making a sour cream substitute. Turn the thickened yogurt into a plastic storage container.
In a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan, heat the honey until it is quite runny and warm. Sprinkle the saffron threads onto the honey, stirring well. Let the honey mixture cool, then fold into the yogurt. Mix in the cardamom as well, then refrigerate the yogurt overnight.
The next day, you’ll see the saffron threads “bleeding” their color and flavor into the container of yogurt. Stir thoroughly before serving with the fruit, seeds, and/or nuts of your choice.