Learn how to make curd or Indian yogurt at home easily every time. Curd also known as Dahi in Hindi is a fermented milk product made from warm milk and a bacterial yogurt starter. Curd has been made traditionally in India for thousands of years. It has probiotic qualities and good for the gut. Here I show you how to make curd at home with my easy step-by-step guide and some helpful tips for troubleshooting.
Table of Contents
About Curd or Dahi
Curd is made by mixing a yogurt starter with warm milk and allowed to ferment for some hours. After the fermentation process the consistency of the flowing milk gradually transforms to a thick wobbly pudding like texture. Due to the bacterial fermentation the final product also has a tangy taste.
You can also call curd as Indian yogurt. But note that the yogurt available outside India is different than curd that we make in India.
Basically curd is a milk product that is fermented, healthy and probiotic. Thus it is widely used in Indian cuisine to make a variety of recipes like dahi vada, papdi chaat, curd rice, kadhi pakora, chaas, lassi, raita, thepla etc.
It is also used as a marinade base to make tikka recipes and also used in the preparation of biryani. There are also some sweets where yogurt is one of the ingredient like shrikhand, balushahi, mishti doi etc.
A couple of requests on how to make curd/dahi at home and How to make paneer. And thus this post on Making curd at home.
I won’t be going into the food science of making curd and the fermentation process. Will just keep it simple with a few tips to keep in mind whilst making curd at home.
You can use curd to make simple raitas or use it in a variety of dishes or serve it plain with aloo paratha, plain paratha or other stuffed paratha varieties.
Generally we have a small portion of curd with our meals. The helpful bacteria in them help to digest food. So if you indigestion issues then you can regularly have some curd at the end of your lunch. We generally avoid having curd for dinner as it can give you cold.
How to make Curd (Dahi or Yogurt)
1. First step is to take a thick bottomed pan and rinse it with clean water.
2. Then add ½ litre of whole milk – about 2 cups milk. Keep the pan on the stovetop and begin to heat milk on a low to medium-low heat.
3. When the milk is getting heated, stir once or twice, so that the milk does not get browned or burnt from the bottom.
4. Let the milk come to a boil. Milk will froth and bubble when it comes to boil.
5. You can even heat milk to a temperature between 85 to 96 degrees Celsius or 185 to 204 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a food temperature scale then you can make use of it.
6. Switch off the heat. Remove the pan and keep it aside on the kitchen counter for the milk to cool at room temperature. We just need the temperature of milk to reduce till the milk becomes warm.
Few ways to check if milk has become warm
7. You can check if the milk has become warm with your fingers (touch method) or with a thermometer. Dip your little finger in the milk and you should feel warm and not hot.
Another way is to touch the pan. When you touch the pan, it should feel warm and not hot.
8. You can even use a food thermometer to check the temperature. The temperature of the warm milk should be between 39 to 44 degrees Celsius or 102 to 111 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Now take 1 to 2 teaspoons of the curd starter and add in the warm milk. In winter you can add 2 teaspoons. Whereas in summers 1 teaspoon works fine.
Here I have used a leftover curd starter. Nowadays you also get dry starters in super markets and online stores. So you can use these package starters also. There are many types of starters available to make different kinds of yogurt. Choose the starter for the kind of yogurt you are planning to make.
10. With a small wired whisk or a spoon mix very well. A small wired whisk makes the job of mixing the curd starter very well in the milk.
11. Then pour this mixture in a bowl or a pan.
12. You can use terracotta or clay bowls, steel bowls and even glass or ceramic bowls for the curd to set. For less washing work, you can set the curd in the same pan in which the milk was boiled.
13. Cover the pan or bowl with a lid. Then keep at room temperature for 4 to 5 hours or till the curd is set. You can also keep overnight also. I kept overnight.
The time taken for the milk to get converted to curd largely depends on the temperature. In a warm, hot and humid climate, the time taken for the curd to set will be 4 to 7 hours. Whereas in a cool or cold climate, the time taken can be 8 to 12 hours.
Nowadays I also set the curd in the Instant pot using the yogurt function. So if you have an Instant pot then read the instructions to set the curd in it. Using the Instant pot is very helpful if you live in a place which has cold climate or during the winters.
14. Next day you will have a nice well set homemade curd.
15. You can see in the below picture that its a properly set thick and creamy curd. Usually, you see such thick curd in halwai shops (Indian sweet shops).
On fermentation, the curd will have a wobbly thick texture, pleasant fermented aroma and a slightly tangy taste. Remember to refrigerate it so that it does not get over fermented.
For any recipe, if you require sour curd then keep it for a couple of hours more at room temperature. This will increase the sourness in the curd due to more bacterial fermentation.
16. Curd can be had plain or sweetened or can be made into a dessert, drink or any dish of your choice. You can also have a small bowl of curd with your lunch.
There are many recipes I make with curd. These are some of the popular recipes in the Indian cuisine where the hero ingredient is curd.
Helpful Tips to make thick Dahi at home
- Use good quality whole milk. Full cream or whole milk yields a luscious and thick curd.
- Always boil the milk before making the curd. This ensures that the milk does not spoil during the fermentation process.
- The milk should not be hot. If its very hot the milk may coagulate and you might end up getting a grainy curd.
- If its a little hot then the curd does not become thick and is a bit runny with some whey in the curd.
- If the milk is cold, then the curd won’t set at all.
- The milk must be warm. Just dip your little finger in the milk and you should feel warm not hot.
- It is very important to dissolve the curd culture uniformly in the milk. Whisk very well with a spoon or a whisker.
- If you stay in a cold place or have cold temperatures, then cover the bowl or pan in which the curd mixture is with a warm towel or warm blanket and keep it in a warm place in your kitchen. You can also use the Instant pot yogurt function for making curd.
- Also you could place the bowl in a big large jar of wheat flour and then cover the jar. This is how my mom-in-law would make curd in the Delhi winters.
- In summers the curd will set faster than in the winters. So remember this point.
- You could use any quantity of milk you want to make the thick curd.
- For half a litre milk, 1 to 2 teaspoons of curd culture works fine. Increase proportionally for larger quantities of milk.
- Once the curd is set, refrigerate the curd.
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How to make Curd (Dahi Recipe)
- ½ litre whole milk or 500 ml milk
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Curd (dahi or yogurt)
- Rinse a thick bottomed pan or saucepan with clean water.
- Pour milk into it and heat it on the stovetop on a medium-low to medium heat.
- Stir a couple of times when the milk is getting heated so that the milk does not get burnt from the bottom.
- When the milk comes to a boil, it will start rising. Before it spills out of the pan, switch off the heat. Set the pan aside on the kitchen countertop.
- Let the milk become warm at room temperature.
- To check if the milk has become warm dip your little finger (touch method) into the milk and you should feel warm and not hot. Second way is to touch the sides of the pan and it should feel warm and not hot.
- The third way is to check with a food thermometer and it should have a temperature between 39 to 44 degrees celsius or 102 to 111 degree fahrenheit.
- Once the milk has become warm, you can use the same pan for setting curd or transfer the warm milk in another bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of curd starter to the milk and mix thoroughly with a small wired whisk.
- Cover with lid and allow the milk to ferment for 5 to 6 hours or until the curd is set
- Depending on the temperature it may take more hours. You can also use Instant pot yogurt function to set the curd.
- On fermentation the curd will have a pleasant fermented aroma and with a slight tangy taste and it will also have a wobbly thick texture.
- Once the curd is made, refrigerate it so that it does not get overfermented. If you need sour curd for any recipe then keep the curd for a couple of hours at room temperature. This will lead to more fermentation and the curd will become sour or very sour.
- You can eat this curd with your meals. You can also add it to variety of recipes like curd rice, buttermilk, lassi, kadhi, mor kuzhambu, dahi kabab, dahi vada, dahi bhalla, biryani, paneer tikka or make raita with it.
- Use whole milk as it makes for a thick creamy curd.
- In hot Indian summers, this method works for me. Use pasteurized or milk that has been boiled earlier and which is refrigerated. Remove this cold milk from the fridge, mix the starter with it. Cover the bowl and let the mixture ferment for 5 to 6 hours or as needed. This saves a bit of time as you don’t need to heat the milk. But note that this method only works in a hot or warm climate. Please don’t use this method with raw milk or milk that has not been pasteurized or boiled earlier as it may have some harmful microorganisms. These microorganisms are destroyed when the milk is boiled.
- Make sure that the milk is warm before you mix the starter. Hot milk will kill the bacteria in the starter and you won’t get a properly fermented curd.
- In winters or cold climates ensure that you are not adding curd culture to milk that has cooled down. If the milk is cold, then the curd won’t set at all in the winters.
- It is very important to dissolve the curd culture uniformly in the milk. Whisk very well with a spoon or a wired whisk.
- Once the curd is set then refrigerate for a couple of days.
- To keep the starter ongoing remove a few spoons from the curd and either refrigerate or freeze it in a small covered bowl.
- If you don’t have any starter then buy packaged starters available in health stores or online stores or supermarkets.
- The recipe can be scaled. You can make a small amount or big batch according to your needs.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Curd Recipe post from the blog archives (first published in May 2012) has been updated and republished on 28 June 2021.