How to Make Yogurt At Home

Yogurt, or Dahi, is an essential part of Indian food. To those who know Indian food only casually, raita will surely be the first thing that comes to mind. It is also used in drinks, like chaas and lassi or Mango Lassi.

Making Yogurt at Home is Easy. How to at Indiaphile.info

It is also used frequently in marinades, such as a tandoori marinade we use frequently. The combination of milk and acid helps tenderize the meat while also saturating it with flavor.

When yogurt is used so frequently, it becomes useful to make it yourself. It can save a little bit of money and it isn’t that hard to do. It’s nice to know what exactly is in your yogurt, since good yogurt should be nothing more than milk and cultures, but store-bought yogurts are often augmented with thickeners and stabilizers, like corn starch and gelatin. They are added to help speed up the manufacturing process and cut costs, not to improve the yogurt in any way. 

Good quality yogurt is made simply by fermenting milk.

Indian dahi is very similar to Greek yogurt, perhaps slightly thinner, but when we buy it from the store we would much rather substitute greek yogurt than ordinary plain yogurt. When you make it yourself, you will have complete control over how thick you want your yogurt to be.

With Indian food, we are pretty much only concerned with making plain yogurt. But I grew up eating sweet yogurts, like Yoplait and Dannon. To make yogurt along these lines, just take the plain yogurt from this recipe, add a little sugar or honey to your taste and some kind of fruit jelly.

There are lots of complicated way of making yogurt. There are even machines you can buy. Don’t bother. Yogurt is so easy to make and only requires pans that you probably already have on hand. Although I give you the proper temperatures and measurements for nutritional purposes, when I make it I don’t even use a thermometer or measure anything, and you don’t have to either!

Making Yogurt at Home is Easy. How to at Indiaphile.info
The residue left at the bottom of the dutch oven is caramelized milk. I used a heavy pan and medium-low heat to minimize the problem, but a double boiler would have solved it completely.
Making Yogurt at Home is Easy. How to at Indiaphile.info
Making Yogurt at Home is Easy. How to at Indiaphile.info
Making Yogurt at Home is Easy. How to at Indiaphile.info
Making Yogurt at Home is Easy. How to at Indiaphile.info
Making Yogurt at Home is Easy. How to at Indiaphile.info
A bowl of homemade yogurt

Yogurt (Dahi) from Scratch

Making yogurt at home is surprisingly simple
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
2 days
Total Time: 2 days 25 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: yogurt
Servings: 8
Calories: 148kcal

Ingredients

  • ½ Gallon Milk or a pint, or a gallon
  • cup Plain Yogurt

Instructions

  • Heat all of the milk to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about the temperature of hot coffee. Use a thermometer if you want, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Try to avoid bringing it all the way to a boil but even that won’t ruin it. Use a double boiler or as thick a pot as you have for this to avoid burning any milk, and stir occasionally for the same reason.
  • Let the milk cool to 105 degrees. That’s about the temperature of a heated spa. I use my finger to judge this. As long as you are under about 120 degrees here you should be okay. You just don’t want to kill your cultures.
  • Stir in the yogurt.
  • Store in covered container (use plastic wrap or a well fitting lid). It’s best, but not crucial, if you can keep it at around 105 degrees. I make it in a dutch oven and then put that in my actual oven with the oven off to stay warm. If it’s significantly cooler than 105, the yogurt will just take longer to set.
    Making Yogurt at Home is Easy. How to at Indiaphile.info
  • Wait about 8-48 hours depending on how warm you were able to keep the yogurt.
  • Optionally you can strain the yogurt. I recommend doing this because homemade yogurt comes out pretty thin since it doesn’t have any thickeners like corn starch or gelatin. To strain it, line a colander with cheese cloth or paper towels. Put the colander in a bowl or sink with something to raise it up like a second, overturned bowl. Pour the yogurt into the cheese cloth. Wrap it. Put a plate with some kind of weight on top such as a couple of cans of beans. This will squeeze out the whey (the yellow liquid). You can leave this for a few minutes or a couple of hours depending on how thick you want your yogurt to be. You can also add more weight to speed up the process.
    Making Yogurt at Home is Easy. How to at Indiaphile.info

Nutrition

Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 95mg | Potassium: 371mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 393IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 303mg | Iron: 0.01mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

11 comments

  1. Stir in a bit of honey, two smashed aspirin into plain yogurt. Apply to face, wait 20-30 minutes, wash off. Lovely facial!

    After reading food label on my favorite Greek yogurt, bleh. Gelatin, gum seeds, cornstarch, chemicals…where’s the “natural” ? BTW, what’s the processing to get 12 grams protein in the Greek yogurt? Thx for posting! Carol M.

    1. Hi Carol. What a great question! Now I’m wishing I had measured the results. Next time I make yogurt I’ll have to do this calculation. From what I see online, whey has about 2g protein per cup. Milk has 8g. My rough estimate is that half the milk went to whey and the other half went to the yogurt. So 2 cups of milk which has 16g of protein becomes 1 cup of whey with 2g and 1 cup of yogurt with 14g.

    1. From what I’ve seen on the internet, it’s a very similar process to make yogurt from soy milk. According to this guy you don’t even have to heat the soy milk before adding in your starter. Just bring it to a warm temperature that will make your cultures happy. You can get your cultures from yogurt as your starter, but it wouldn’t really be vegan so he suggests using acidopholus. (Lactobacillus) acidopholus is a common bacterium used to ferment yogurt so it would be pretty much equivalent, although the two most used strains are Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

      I’m not really into soy milk myself, but I’ll probably try making almond yogurt one of these days. Maybe it will find its way into a post.

    1. Most often I use Karoun. But I have used many different brands before without trouble. If you are having trouble, I would look for problems in procedure first, since anything sold as “yogurt” legally has to have live cultures in it and should work. Try to use as fresh a starter as possible since it can get weaker as it gets older.

      Are you letting the milk cool enough before mixing in the yogurt? It should be around 100° to 110° F, cool enough to touch but hot enough that you don’t want to keep your finger in it. If it is too hot, the liquid will kill the bacteria that you need for fermentation.

      Ideally you would keep it pretty warm, by the oven or refrigerator is a good place. Try wrapping it in towels to keep the heat in as long as possible. If it doesn’t set in a day, you can let it go up to two or three. The more milk you are using or the cooler the room it sits in, the longer it will take.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks, Steve. My daughter’s nanny got me a started recently(her home-made yogurt basically) and I have had no issues making yogurt at home since then. I wonder why I was not able to make it using store bought yogurt although the container said live active cultures. It could’ve been the amount I used. Normally I use just a spoonful of yogurt as a starter. Maybe I had to use significantly more as you suggested in your post.

  2. Is the yogurt relatively sour? I’m looking to make a less intense flavored plain yogurt at home.

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