The food eating habits of Indians might be intriguing for others, but the practices that have been passed down to us for many generations, offer us innumerable health benefits. Be it eating food with hands and not spoons, adding ghee to the rice, sipping very little water while ingesting or even ending each meal with curd or yogurt - it has all the good reasons for your overall health and wellbeing. 

There is nothing unusual about these practices, in fact, they are quite common across all states and communities in our diversified country with very little variations. With traditional foods gaining back their popularity, many of us also understood why ghee, cold-pressed oils, whole spices need to be a part of our daily diet but the question on why we should end our every meal with Yogurt or Curd still remains a mystery. 

It is a habit of sorts in the South Indian households to end their meal with at least 2 ladles of curd mixed with rice while in Northern part of India, a glass full of buttermilk or chaas – basically curd churned with water is a must-have to polish off the meal. Also Read: Homemade Curd Is A Probiotic And More
yogurt

Yogurt or curd is also written as Yoghurt, Yogourt, or Yogohurt is basically fermented milk that gets cultured by bacteria, known as yogurt cultures. 

Call it dahi in Hindi, Perugu in Telugu, Thayir in Tamil and Malayalam, Mosaru in Kannada, Yogurt is as essential as drinking water while consuming food. Curd or dahi found its mention in our ancient scriptures like Mahabharata and it is often described as the favourite food of Little Lord Krishna and is the main ingredient in Panchamruta, that quintessential offering made to Gods on the festive days. 

Are Yogurt And Curd The Same?

Well, over the years, yogurt, curd or dahi has donned many avatars and it may vary in taste and texture depending on the country and its home cuisine. In Indian sub-continent, thick, white, bland yogurt is the most available variety, made from cow or buffalo milk. 

Dahi is derived from the Sanskrit word Dadhi, which essentially means ‘sour milk.’ Widely used in cooking, beauty, rituals, dahi or curd is highly valued for its therapeutic properties while Yogurt on the other hand is a Turkish word related to the verb yogurmak, which means curdled, coagulated, to thicken. 

Though there are many flavours and variations available right now in the market, the basic preparation remains the same. This dairy product is produced by mixing the culture of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus to warm milk and allowed it set over a period of 6 to 8 hours, making it super rich in calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, magnesium and potassium. It may sound technically suave, but it is nothing new to many of us as we would have many times witnessed our mothers or grandmothers stirring in a small spoon of curd with milk, just warm in right temperature for letting it set for the next day. 

How Is Natural Yogurt Made?

Ingredients:

1 litre cow or buffalo milk

½ tsp plain curd

Method:

Boil milk and let it cool down to around 45 degree Celsius (should be warm to touch). Mix it with a quarter teaspoon of leftover curd. Place the bowl in a toasty corner of your kitchen and it will be set in 6 to 8 hours. It is important the temperature right, as super-hot or cold milk can lead to stringy, non-tasty, spoiled curd. 

Yogurt In Ayurveda:

The traditional Indian medicine describes curd as an important part of every meal but also cautions its intake mostly depending upon the body type and seasons. The Ayurvedic textbooks have in fact, have laid down several guidelines with regards to its usage, qualities to be possessed by the product and even how to consume. 

Ayurveda advocates that the properties of this dairy product may differ based on its taste, texture, fermentation process, how old the curd is etc and it precisely divides dahi into 5 different types – Sweet Curd, Semi-set thick, sweet-sour, sour and very sour. 

Sweet Curd:

Sweet curd is nothing but fresh, thick yogurt. Ending your meal with sweet curd aids in digestion, improves immunity, makes bones stronger. Ayurveda recommends consuming sweet curd daily to calm down diseases associated with vata and pitta doshas and is often touted as an aphrodisiac. 

Sour and very tangy Curd:

The ancient medicine terms sour curd as hot in nature is recommended for improving appetite and for stimulating the functioning of vata and pitta. 

Though yogurt made from buffalo or curd milk is quite popular, in few parts of India, dahi from goat’s milk is widely used. Goat curd, according to Ayurveda is an excellent remedy to combat tridoshas and is also known for building lung power and stimulate digestion. 

How To Consume Curd:

Yogurt or plain curd can be consumed by mixing it with rice, mixed with sugar or as a stand-alone item. Curd should never be heated, as it may lose all its nutritional properties and is not advised for those suffering from blood-related ailments, inflammation. Patients suffering gastro related ailments like gastritis, stomach ulcers, diarrhoea, Crohn’s disease, or inflammatory bowel syndrome are advised to avoid sour curd. Also Check Out: Prebiotics: 5 Awesome Foods That Uphold Gut Health- Infographic

Yogurt made from low-fat curd serves as a natural coolant and aids in digestion. For those suffering from excessive thirst or polydipsia, consuming curd mixed with sugar or jaggery is an amazing thirst quencher. 

Health Benefits of Yogurt:
curd rice

The creamy, delicious curd tops the list of healthiest foods in the world. Traditionally, mixing curd with honey is considered as the food of Gods in India owing to its healing properties. It is a staple in European and Middle Eastern countries and in Greece, Oxygala or Greek Yogurt is a popular variety. One should consume yogurt in right quantities not just for its taste, but also to derive various health benefits. 

Boosts Bone Health:

Yogurt after fermentation becomes rich in phosphorus and calcium, the crucial minerals for improving bone health. Consuming a cup of plain curd daily prevents osteoporosis, arthritis, and other bone-related ailments, besides making teeth stronger. 

Natural Probiotic:

If your mother or grandmother insisted on you eating curd at the end of every meal, they have a reason for it. Rich in microorganisms or good bacteria, which play a crucial role in managing good health, the curd is a probiotic. It can increase the number of white blood cells to fight infection and improves immunity. However, if you are consuming store-bought curd, make sure to get those fermented with ‘live active culture’ to enjoy its benefits. Also Check Out: 5 Awesome Wellness Incentives Of Probiotics-Infographic

Improves Digestion:

Being a probiotic, it is your must-have food to improve digestion. Make sure to consume sweet and fresh curd for regulating intestinal functioning and to stimulate the digestive juices in the right amounts. Homemade curd can be consumed even by those with mild lactose intolerance as the lactose gets broken during the fermentation and may not show a great impact on digestive health

Heart Healthy:

Various studies reveal that regular consumption of curd can help in lowering the levels of bad cholesterol besides maintaining the blood pressure. Ensure eating yogurt made from low-fat milk to prevent the risk of high cholesterol levels. 

Keeps Scalp Dandruff Free:

Yogurt possesses anti-fungal properties, making it a popular home remedy for treating dandruff. If you are suffering from an itchy, flaky scalp, take a bowl of sour curd and apply it on the scalp, on the hair roots. Leave it for 30 minutes, rinse it water before washing it with mild shampoo. Repeat it at least twice in a week, to witness positive results. Also Read: Top 8 Anti-Dandruff Shampoos To Get Rid of Dandruff

Aids In Weight Loss:

There are many factors that can contribute to weight gain like unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol etc. But if you are putting that extra fat round your waistline, it could be due to excessive amounts of cortisol – a hormone. Rich in calcium, consumption of curd restricts the production of cortisol and also making you feel satiated for longer hours, cutting down on hunger pangs. 

Prevents Sudden Sugar Spikes:

Loaded with live culture and being active in easily digestible protein, consuming plain curd as a standalone snack can help in preventing sudden spikes in blood glucose levels. According to researchers, consuming plain Greek yogurt not only reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases but also takes charge of increasing levels of blood glucose. However, do not eat flavoured Greek yogurt as it may be rich in sugar content. 

Glow From Within:

Your face is often an indication of your health and skin texture tells it all. Curd provides moisturizing from within and is an excellent remedy for those suffering from dry skin. The lactic acid in curd keeps gut healthy, a prerequisite for beautiful, glowing skin. 

Clears Vaginal Infections:

Vaginal infections are caused due to various reasons and is often a result of yeast. The Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus present in curd is known for restricting the growth of yeast and killing the infection by producing hydrogen peroxide. 
buttermilk

What Is Greek Yogurt and How Much Protein Is There In It?

In simple words, Greek Yogurt is nothing but hung curd and if you are one of those on a weight loss journey, believe in a bowl of this creamy, thick curd to achieve faster results. Hung curd made by draining out all the watery whey through a muslin cloth will meet your daily protein requirements. 

As per USDA, around 28 grams or 1 ounce of Greek Yogurt is loaded with 12 grams of protein, which can keep you satiated for longer hours and help in regulating the hunger hormone ghrelin. It is also low on carbohydrates with around 8 to 9 grams per serving making it an ideal choice for the diabetics and it is a guilt-free diet for the patients suffering from high blood pressure, owing to its low sodium levels. 

Flavoured Greek yogurt mixed with fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries, mangoes have become quite popular among all age groups and is an excellent substitute for ice cream. Also Read: Protein Week: Up Your Protein Intake For Healthy Lifestyle

Should You Eat Yogurt Every Day?

Curd or dahi is a staple dish across all Indian cuisines and it is no exaggeration to say that you may not find a single Indian household without yogurt. However, there are many myths associated if eating curd daily is a good health practice.   

And here is the answer: You should eat curd daily to enjoy these continuous benefits and wellbeing. 

If you are on antibiotics, nothing aids in faster recovery and fatigue than a bowl of curd. It serves as an antidote and replaces the system with good bacteria. 

Researchers believe that people who add yogurt to their daily diet are less prone to infections, thanks to the presence of lactic acid in ample amounts. Lactic acid guards the intestines against the growth of cancerous cells, gastrointestinal disorders. It also plays a major role in the absorption of calcium by triggering the saturation hormone and aids in cleansing the intestinal system. 

Vitamin B is a crucial component our body requires on a daily basis and it is produced in the bowels, through biological reactions. Eat curd daily to trigger the production of vitamin B, which is very crucial for combating autoimmune diseases and also in maintaining the nervous system. 

Is Curd A Beauty Essential?
yogurt for beauty

Yes. Plain curd has always been a major beauty essential, which is inexpensive and offers major benefits. Yogurt is a rich source of good bacteria, which can moisturize the skin from within and help in improving the complexion. 

Lactic acid and other components, in curd act as amazing exfoliators, reduce rashes, inflammation and leaving skin smooth and bright. Use face masks made from curd to get rid of scars, acne, large pores, tanning, pigmentation.

Curd and Honey Face Pack:

Ingredients:

¼ cup plain curd

1 tsp rose water

1 tsp natural honey

Method:

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients into a thick paste and apply it as a thin layer on the face. Let it dry for 15 minutes and rinse it with cold water. 

How It Helps:

The presence of lactic acid gives your skin an instant glow, while honey tightens the skin pores. Rosewater leaves a pleasant fragrance besides unclogging the pores. 

Curd and Cucumber Face Pack:

Ingredients:

¼ cup plain curd

1 tsp chamomile oil

1 tsp cucumber juice

Method:

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients and apply it evenly on the face and neck. Let it dry and wash it with after 30 minutes. 

How It Helps:

You should try this face pack if your skin got overexposed to the sun leading to severe tanning. Curd is a natural coolant and clears blemishes while the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties in chamomile oil soothe the skin. The cucumber juice extract provides skin with an instant glow. Also Read: Anti-Ageing Face Packs For Youthful Skin

Yogurt Recipes:

And if you thought, this creamy, bland dairy product has to be either consumed with rice or guzzled down in the form of buttermilk, think again. Curd is a staple ingredient in Indian kitchens and is often mixed, churned with various other food items for making super delicious dishes. We bring you two very easy-to-make dishes one from hung curd aka Greek Yogurt and other with South Indian homemade curd.  

Shrikhand:
dahi shrikand recipe

Ingredients:

250 grams plain hung curd or Greek Yogurt

100 grams powdered sugar

4 cardamom pods, finely grounded

5 saffron strands dipped in warm milk

Roughly chopped cashews, almonds and pista for garnish

Method:

Take a deep bowl, and place a clean, white muslin cloth on top of it. Pour fresh, thick curd into it 

Tie the edges of muslin cloth together and seal it tightly around. Hang it on to a hook or place a heavy-weight for all the whey water to get drained water

It may around 4 hours for all the water to get strained and the curd to form thick

Collect all the hung curd into a bowl and whip it with an electric beater, till it attains smooth texture – this is called chakka

Add saffron strands dipped in warm milk, cardamom powder and sugar

Give it a nice stir and store it in a box. Refrigerate it for a few hours

Sprinkle chopped dry fruits on top of it before serving

Nutritional Benefits:

Hung curd or Greek yogurt is low on calories, carbohydrates, sodium but is a good source of protein. Cardamom not only adds aromatic flavour to the dish but also aids in digestion and alleviates bad breath. Saffron strands are rich in vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin A while dry fruits keep your heart healthy, provide the body with good fats. 

Dahi Vada, Aavada or Thayir Vada:
thayir vada recipe

Ingredients:

250 grams urad dal, soaked for 3 hours

2 green chillies, finely chopped

For Tempering:

½ litre thick, fresh curd

½ tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp split urad dal

Pinch of hing or asafoetida

Bunch of curry leaves

Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying

Method:

Coarsely grind soaked urad dal in a mixer along with green chillies. Add salt

In a deep pan, add oil for deep frying. Take a ball of urad dal paste, press it slightly on the greased palm. Leave it gently in to the oil and fry till it is done. 

Let it cool.

In another kadai, add oil and temper it with mustard, split urad dal, hing and curry leaves. Whisk curd till it turns fluffy and add this tempering to it. 

Dip each vada into the water and squeeze it out. Put it in the curd mixture and let it stay for 30 minutes, till all the vadas get soaked in the flavours. 

Serve with chutney

Nutritional Benefits:

Urad dal is a rich source of protein which can aid in weight loss while thick fresh curd aids in digestion, regulates bowel movements and helps in boosting the immunity. Mustard, curry leaves aid in fighting infections while hing soothes the tummy. 

Conclusion:

Call it curd or yogurt, this thick, creamy, delicious dairy product is a must-have in our daily diet, especially in India. Made from live yogurt cultures, curd has evolved into many avatars in recent years and is one of the superfoods in the world offering numerous health benefits. Though Ayurveda recommends consuming curd more in its water form like buttermilk, hung curd or Greek yogurt too are sought-after for its protein content and being low on carbs. It is an ideal snack both for diabetics and hypertensive patients and snacks, delicacies made from curd form an important part of Indian cuisine. The next time, you had a heavy meal and worried about your gut health, hog on a bowl full of plain curd or guzzle down buttermilk. 

In whichever format you relish, it works!