Curd!!! Does it need any introduction? We all love curd and use it in varied ways. We have it in breakfast as flavoured yoghurt or lassi, in our daily meals in the form of plain curd or raita, then it is used in many chats and snacks and also in preparation of many veggies. Also used as a beauty product like applying to face or hair. It is a versatile item.
Benefits of curd are well known. It boosts immunity, improves digestion, good for teeth and bones, helps in releasing stress and anxiety, good for heart and much more. People who are lactose intolerant or just don’t like the taste of milk, can easily go for curd. I know many children who don’t like milk at all and hence go for curd. To know more about benefits of curd, click here.
It is a common practice in many households to set curd on daily basis. During summers it is very easy to set curd and it usually sets within 2 to 4 hours depending on the outside temperature. But setting curd in winters is no less than a Herculean’s task. As the temperature drops, curd setting becomes tougher. I know some people who stop setting curd in winters and go for store-bought curd. It was a difficult task for me also but have now overcome this problem. A common practice is to wrap the bowl, in which cultured milk is put, in some woollen cloth like shawl or blanket. But this is not easy because if the milk spills it may spoil your woollens also.
But there are some easy ways also. And if due steps are taken, one can set curd easily without getting messy.
Keeping it simple, let’s go through the steps and see how we can set perfect curd in winters too
1.Use a casserole for setting curd. A casserole is an insulated container which retains the heat. For better results, wash the casserole with hot water before setting curd in it.
2. Smoothen the starter/culture (a portion of old set curd) and put it in the casserole. Add lukewarm milk on this starter. Mix nicely with a spoon.
Normally you need 1 to 2 teaspoon of starter (old curd) for 500 ml milk.
You can also use whey, that is, curd water, water left after making hung curd, as starter.
3. Now drop a green chilli with the stem attached to it. You can even put just the stem of green chilli.
Dont worry, there will not be any chilli in your yogurt. No taste of it. Also, you can take any normal green chilli for this purpose.
4. Close the casserole and keep it in some dark place. Microwave or Otg is the best place for this purpose. Just switch on the light of these appliances and put the casserole in it. You don’t have to run it. Light of the microwave/Otg is enough to give the required warmth needed to set the curd.
5. In peak winters, you can even preheat the Otg for 10 minutes and then keep the casserole in it.
The other method is that put some hot water in your casserole, keep the vessel with milk, starter and green chilli in it and close the lid.
It’s better to set your curd in the night before you say goodnight and you get a perfect curd by the time you say good morning.
Believe me,just yesterday when the temperature was 12 degrees celsius, I managed to set perfect curd in exact two hours following the above mentioned steps.
To understand how chilli sets the curd, please read the details given underneath…
We all know that curd is formed from ed Lactose and protein casein. When milk is heated to a certain temperature 30 to 40 degrees centigrade and a bacteria lactobacillus is added to it then this bacteria multiplies by eating the sugar lactose and lactose is converted into lactic acid. Now, this lactic acid makes milk proteins curdle. And the liquid milk turns into thick curd. It is because of this lactic acid that the curd tastes sour or tangy.
Normally we get this lactobacillus from a small portion of old curd, called culture or starter in simple language.
But the lactobacillus which produces yoghurt occurs naturally on the surface of vegetables and is responsible for their fermentation (i.e. kimchi, Kosher dills, sauerkraut). In the case of capsicums, the calyx of fruits (such as chilli) are often rich in various lactobacilli. These natural bacteria create a starter for lacto-fermentation of the milk. Since the growth of lactobacillus bacteria slows down in winters, below 18 degrees celsius then Capsaicin from the chilli appears to increase the metabolic rate of the lactobacilli. In general household practice, curdling is known to occur faster in the presence of chilli.
In a jiffy
Use a casserole for setting curd and drop a green chilli with stem attached into it.
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