Quarantine Comfort Food, Quick and Easy, Recipes, Tips from Janani

Homemade Vegan Yogurt – The Best Ever Dairy Replacement

Hi Vegetarian Carnivores! I can’t even tell you how excited I am to share this recipe with you guys. Honestly it is probably my biggest breakthrough yet in vegan recipe creation. I posted a little sneak preview a few days ago and you all went absolutely nuts over it, so that makes me SO excited. So this one is for you, yogurt lovers! My homemade vegan yogurt recipe is SO easy to make and has that tangy and slightly tart flavor that you crave!

To all my Indian readers

As you know, I am a South Asian, which means a couple of things. It explains my freakishly high spice tolerance. In fact, it is not just a tolerance. It is an intense craving for heat, which freaks many people out. All my recipes basically have one line copy and pasted: I love spice so I am putting a ton of red chili flakes. I probably have a problem.

But this post isn’t about that.

The second and more important thing that comes with being a South Asian is the physical and emotional dependence on buttermilk/curd/dahi/thayir/yogurt. If I could take a moment to just try to explain how much I love yogurt… 

How can I describe yogurt? It is cool, it is savory, it is tangy, it is refreshing. And I am NOT talking about the fruity yogurt you get at the grocery store, or the ones with a ton of sugar added to them. B.A.R.F. I can’t stand flavored yogurt!

I used to love drinking buttermilk right out of the carton, and heaping spoonfuls of thick curd onto rice to make thayir saadam, a fancy name for plain yogurt and rice, a staple of South India. You can also use it as a lovely cooling condiment on rotis, chapatis, and flavored rices. The cooling effect really makes a huge difference, especially in the hot summer months.

Our limiting factor

You guys, I get it. Yogurt was my limiting factor. I stopped cows milk, cheese, eggs, everything. And the one thing I couldn’t for the life of me recreate was yogurt. 

And I know you guys have this issue too! I have received so many messages from vegetarians with “yogurt is the big thing that I can’t give up” grievance. And that is totally understandable. It is our staple. 

But luckily now, we don’t have to give it up!

How do you prepare it?

When it comes to preparing yogurt, the sky is the limit! Plain yogurt is nice on rice as a quick and tasty meal, especially when paired with picked vegetables. Fancy yogurt, otherwise known as raita, is plain yogurt, but dressed up with cucumber bits, mint, cilantro, fried mustard seeds, and some salt for a kick.

I myself have prepared this vegan version multiple ways, as you may be able to see from the pictures. Some versions are simple with just lemon juice and salt, and some are fancier with mustard seeds and curry leaves and cucumber and mint! Really, whatever you are in the mood for, these varieties have got you covered!

The base matters!

When it came to veganizing a childhood favorite I realized that not all “plain yogurts” are created equally. What I mean by that is I’d go to the grocery store’s yogurt aisle and pick up a non dairy unflavored unsweetened yogurt, hoping it would meet my tangy and tart expectations. To this date, I have not found a single store bought yogurt that works over rice. While tasty for sure in parfaits, I can’t imagine putting those somehow-too-sweet “unsweetened” yogurts over rice.

Which brings me to now. The best way to get a vegan version of yogurt that works over rice and other savory dishes is to make it yourself! And I’m NOT talking about getting vegan cultures and leaving it to set for 12 hours overnight to enjoy the next day. You can do that, and I was thinking about doing that…but with this next hack, I’m not sure you will ever find the need to!

So what base do I use?

The best bases to use are non dairy thick and creamy unflavored milks. Milks such as Ripple’s unsweetened original, Oatly’s original unsweetened, and plain full fat soymilk are wonderful options. You can also use silken tofu blended up into a uniform puree for a lovely thicker yogurt consistency. The milks will yield you a buttermilk-like thinner consistency.

The only downside to using silken tofu is that the base flavor of the raw tofu takes a little bit more work to mask. If the flavor comes through, it tastes pretty chalky and we don’t want that. See my notes in the instructions section on how to mask the chalky flavor in tofu, if that is what you choose to use!

Ok enough chit chat! Are you ready for this doozy?!

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup plant milk
    1. Can substitute with 7 oz silken tofu (this is generally half a block)
  2. 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
    1. If you are using tofu, you may find you need 5-6 tbsp lemon juice to help cancel out the raw tofu taste
  3. 1/2 tsp salt (use more or less to taste)
  4. Handful chopped cilantro
  5. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  6. 1 green chili, sliced lengthwise
  7. 3-4 curry leaves
  8. 1 tbsp oil
  9. 1/4 tsp chaat masala, optional

Instructions

  1. In a bowl combine the plant milk, lemon juice, and salt. Let it sit for a minute. The milk will begin to “curdle” and get thicker. Don’t worry- your dish has not gone bad. We actually do want it to get thicker. 
    1. If you are using tofu, blend the tofu with the lemon juice and salt in a high power blender until creamy and even.
  2. Whisk it nicely to get rid of any clumps.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat oil and add in mustard seeds.
  4. When the mustard seeds start bursting, CAREFULLY add in the green chili and curry leaves. Be very careful, as the water content from the curry leaves will react with the oil and splutter. Don’t get burned.
  5. When the spluttering from the mustard seeds has died down, turn off the heat and add the fried mixture to the milk/lemon/salt concoction.
  6. Add in chaat masala if you have it.
  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
  8. Enjoy with rice, alone, or as a refreshing drink!

Results

Look at the beautiful drop! I do love action shots!

As a self proclaimed serial curd rice consumer, I never thought I would be able to say that I created an imitation that was so convincing that even knowing that I am not eating dairy, I am unable to tell the difference! It is truly amazing.

So give this a go and let me know what you think!!

See you soon! 

Janani <3 <3

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