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A complete guide to making dairy-free curd/yogurt!

Wondering how to make cruelty-free (i.e. vegan) curd, yogurt and buttermilk? Well, all you have to do is to substitute your milk (dairy version, animal based) with mylk (vegan version, plant based)! Okay, let me elaborate. Mylk can be made out of surprisingly many vegan sources: nuts (cashews, almonds), rice grains, coconut, soy and more. Vegan curd comes out best using mylk made of either peanuts, cashews, almonds, soy beans, rice or coconut.

Making plant based mylk

To make vegan curd, first we need to get the mylk ready. The basic steps to prepare plant based mylk acurd (1)re (almost) the same, as follows:

  1. Soak 1 cup beans/nuts/seeds for 8 hours (3 hours for cashews).
  2. Drain the water.
  3. Blend them adding some water in your blender, until it becomes smooth paste.
  4. Add the rest of the water to achieve mylky consistency. (Generally about 3 to 4 times the quantity of beans, nuts or seeds)
  5. Strain the liquid. What you get out of this is mylk.

Note: To make curd with coconut milk, just skip step 1 above. Blend fresh coconut pieces. Soak the pulp in hot water (equal amount). Strain with thin cloth after water cooks down. Repeat the process again with half amount of water and you get the mylk after which, the method of turning it into curd is just similar to above. This and other such pointers are available here.

Making the curd starter

Take small quantity of mylk to make the starter for the first time. If using peanut milk, rice milk or soy milk, boil them for 2-3 minutes and let the temperature come down until you can safely insert your figure into it. For cashew/almond/coconut milk, just warm the milk. Once this is done, either use the old vegan curd starter saved from the previous batch, or use one of the 3 options below to make the starter from scratch:

  1. Using Rejuvelac : Add 2-3 spoons of Rejuvelac in a small bowl of warm mylk and keep overnight. Rejuvelac is a home-made vegan pro-biotic drink (It is surprisingly easy-to-make).
  2. Using Chilli stems: Toss in 10-15 chilli stems into a small bowl of warm  mylk and keep overnight.
  3. Using plant based pro-biotic tablets (vsl#3 – available at any pharmacy store.

Setting the curd

  1. Boil peanut milk or soy milk let the milk boil for 2-3 minutes and then cool it down to a temperature so that you can safely insert your finger inside. For cashew/almond/coconut milk, just bring them to lukewarm temperature.
  2. To have good texture of cashew/almond/coconut curd, add 1tbsp cornflour or arrowroot (for 1-2 cups of milk) to small quantity of warm milk and add it back to the rest of the milk while heating. Keep stirring continuously with a spoon until the milk starts boiling or becomes thick.
  3. Add 2-3 spoons of starter (more depending on the quantity of mylk) and let it set overnight.
  4. It’s important not to disturb the curdling process till at least 8-10 hours.
  5. To get more sourness in the curd, keep it outside for longer than 10 hours.
  6. The texture of the curd improves after 2nd or 3rd batch.
  7. Once the curd is set, it can be saved in deep-freezer for a month to use as a starter for the next batch.  It stays fine for a month this way.

Other useful tips and resources on making vegan curd:

  • Video demonstration of peanut curd by Dr. Rupa Shah can be seen here. Peanut curd goes perfect with dishes such as raita, curd-rise, chat and butter milk, where in the added spices takes over the nutty taste.
  • If one needs to consume curd plain or with salt or sugar, then peanut+rice combo tastes awesome! Here the video demonstration for the same. In fact cashew or almond curd also works out perfect for the same purpose.
  • Recipe for Rejuvelac – a wonderful home-made pro-biotic drink, which is super-easy to make and also works as curd-starter.
  • Vegan curd How-to tutorial by Susmitha.
  • Another recipe for cashew and peanut based vegan yogurts by Harini at TongueTicklers.

At almost every Hyderabad Vegans monthly potluck or any other events, someone’s brought a curd dish (usually from peanut curd, sometimes cashew or soy curd). And, all the attendees – new/aspiring vegans as well as the old timers – will testify that it has come out yummy every time.

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