Come rain or shine, yogurt is healthy!

We all talk about dahi/yogurt being a health food and some of us also have a decent quantity of it daily – we might like to have a plain bowlful, or sprinkled with salt and roasted cumin powder. Some of us like it with a spoonful of sugar whereas chaas or lassi is a must in most homes. Chaas and lassi are not only good coolers but also good digestive aids.

Yogurt or dahi has been used as a food for so long that its origins are clouded in legend. The story is told that long ago, some nomads wandering in the desert somewhere in the Middle East were supposed to have placed some milk in a leather pouch, newly made from a sheep’s stomach. The bacteria present in the pouch, plus the steady warmth of the day, curdled the milk which then set to a delightful creamy texture in the cool of the desert night. When we make dahi at home all we do is take some warm pasteurized milk and add some starter (bacterial culture). Then we mix it well, sometimes whisk it hard to make a foam, and then leave it at room temperature for a few hours. Once the dahi sets, we put it in the refrigerator. The bacteria that thicken the milk stop undesirable bacteria growing, at least for a time.

It is the presence of this very bacteria in dahi that makes it a health food. The human gastrointestinal tract contains billions of bacteria, which can be divided into more than two hundred different species. These carry out many functions, ranging from breaking down dietary fibre and undigested starch to synthesising vitamins and regulating the time that food residues stay in the intestine. Their presence also stops many undesirable bacteria taking up residence. Dahi is also rich in protein and calcium and as it is made with the help of good bacteria it acts as an anti infection agent in the intestine.

Sometimes harmful bacteria can overpower normal bacteria. This is what happens when you suffer an attack of diarrhoea. Having yogurt with the good bacteria gives the stomach lining a friendly atmosphere to work in and even in cases of diarrhoea, yogurt is one food that even the doctor allows!

As is the tradition, I will wind up with some recipes….dahi special!

Teen Dal ke Dahi Bhalle
Dahi Papdi Chaat

Chocolate Yogurt.

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor

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