Friday, October 20, 2017

 

Curd

                     

                                Curd in a pot

 

Curd is a dairy product obtained by coagulating milk by a process called curdling. This coagulation can be caused by adding rennet or any edible acidic substance like lemon juice or vinegar and allowing curdling to occur. The increased acidity causes the proteins in the milk to coagulate into solid masses or curd.

In Yarlpanam and India, curd is made from cow milk after boiling and cooling to room temperature and adding old curd as a starter. This converts the lactose in milk to lactic acid which gives the sour taste to curd. Raw milk contains lactobacillus.

Making curd at home:

A good quality fresh whole milk is used to make curd. Whole milk yields a thick and rich curd. The milk is boiled well and simmered before making the curd. By boiling the bacteria and other organisms in the milk are destroyed and the milk does not spoil during the fermentation process.

After boiling, the milk is transferred into a clay pot and allowed to cool undisturbed until warm when the curd culture is added. The culture is a portion of yesterday’s curd that had been saved. The temperature of the milk at this point is crucial, if it is hot the organisms in the culture will be killed and milk does not turn to curd; if it is cold the organisms do not coagulate the milk and end up in runny or liquidy curd. The milk should be just warm and when your little finger is dipped it must feel warm and not hot or cold. When the curd starter culture has been added, the milk is gently stirred so that the culture is uniformly mixed in the milk. The pot is then covered and left undisturbed in warm place to ferment overnight or ten to twelve hours. In tropical places like Yarlpanam this can be left anywhere in the kitchen. This is true in summer months and the curd is ready faster than in winter months. In winter months you may need to wrap round the pot with a warm cloth to keep the warmth in.

Curd is also made from Buffalo milk and is common practice in certain parts of Sri Lanka and South Asian countries. Buffalo milk is better than cow milk because of its higher fat content making curd thicker.

Buffalo curd has a higher nutritional value of protein, fat and minerals. Quality of the curd also depends on the starter culture. Fermentation develops the characteristic flavour and colour of the product.

Curd from cow milk is made in homes in smaller quantities for private use whereas curd from buffalo milk is commercially made at least in Sri Lanka. Buffalo milk is filtered to remove any particles and boiled to kill any microorganisms. Then scum is removed and the milk is cooled to room temperature. A suitable amount of curd from previous batch is added and stirred. Then this mixture is poured into individual clay pots and the mouth of the pot is covered and sealed by wrapping a piece of paper around the mouth of the pot and left to ferment for about twelve hours. These pots are then shipped to other parts of the country as needed. When they arrive, the curd is ready for consumption.

Difference from yoghurt

What curd is to India, yogurt is to The West. Though both the products differ by a fine line, the basic difference lies in the method of preparation and also the beneficial bacterial strains that kick start the fermentation of milk.

Presently yogurt is the most sought after product by our weight watchers. Other than this, there are various other benefits and it is safe to say that you can replace curd with yogurt from your daily meals.

Uses of curd:

Unlike other dairy products like cheese, ice-cream and flavoured yoghurt, curd forms a part of most Indian diets. Curd is used as a side dish with almost any meals. Sometimes it is used as a dessert after meals. Curd is much used in India more than in Yarlpanam where it is used in most vegetarian houses, ceremonial meals and temples. Curd has a number of health and nutritional benefits, and eating curd every day helps your system stay cool, improves your digestive system, and helps get rid of stomach problems. Here’s why you should include curd a part of your everyday diet:

Health benefits of curd:

1. Helps in Digestion:

Curd helps in digestion and maintains a healthy digestive tract. It should be consumed fresh else it can lead to acidity which is harmful. The useful bacteria in curd prevent stomach ulcers and prevent intestinal problems. The nutrients in the curd can easily be absorbed in the digestive system and helps in absorption of other nutrients from other sources that have been eaten. It neutralises the heat produced by spicy foods. Curd is also used in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery because curd absorbs water from the intestine and acts as a stool binder.

2. Help for the heart:

Curd helps to maintain a healthy heart by minimizing the risk of high blood pressure and helps reduce cholesterol level. It also purifies blood and thus preventing skin problems and reduce body odour.

3. It is a substitute for milk for those who are intolerant to lactose:

Those who cannot consume milk due to their intolerance to lactose in milk can safely consume curd which contains lactic acid that has been converted from lactose making it easier to digest.

4. Helps boost immunity:

The ‘good bacteria’ present in curd fights against several microorganisms in the body. It is also useful in preventing vaginal yeast infection in women. These properties of curd do not diminish when it is heated along with curry preparations to add flavour. Daily consumption of curd helps prevent infections.

5. High Calcium Content:

Curd has high content of calcium and phosphorous and this makes it perfect for good teeth and bones. It can assimilate and absorb calcium more than milk. Daily use of curd prevents osteoporosis and strengthens teeth and bones.

6. As a skincare product and enhances beauty:

By applying curd to skin, it cleanses the pores and acts like a bleaching agent. It is also used as a hair conditioner and adds shine and luster to the dry and brittle hair.

7. Helps to get rid of dandruff

Curd is a simple and cheap homemade treatment to get rid of dandruff. The lactic acid has anti fungal properties. Just whip some curd in a bowl and apply to hair and leave it for an hour and wash with water.

8. Helps you lose weight:

The calcium in the curd prevents the body from releasing more cortisol, the imbalance of which is responsible for hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol.

9. Best cure for a hangover:

Drink responsibly, but if you have side-effects occasionally, curd could be a big help.

10. Energy booster:

It works as an energy booster. It also hydrates your body and works as an antioxidant.

11. Best comfort food for all seasons:

People from South India especially Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh swear by this statement. Curd rice is a speciality in these areas of India.

12. Stress buster and mood lifter – Curd is a great mood lifter. Flavoured yoghurt especially helps deal with lows.

All these health benefits make curd a superb food item that we as a family should consume on a daily basis.

Side-effects of curd:

Eating of Sour curd should be avoided as it irritates the throat and causes common cold and headache. . When curd didn’t set properly or didn’t coagulate, avoid it,

Arthritis patients should avoid curd as it may add pains to your joints.

Curd should not be consumed alone. Substances like sugar, jaggery and honey should always be added to it

Using curd

:As already discussed, curd is used with meals mostly in south India and Yarlpanam as a side dish or in cooking curries and butter milk is drunk alone as a drink or with added pieces of green chilies and onion to give added taste

.When it is churned it gives butter milk and ghee. Ghee is vastly used in cooking and in making sweets.

Curd and honey:

In a bowl take some curd and add some honey on top and eat with a spoon regularly to get the following benefits.

Health benefits of honey and curd have been discussed separately but when they are combined together they work better for health.

In combination, curd and honey give a variety of increased health benefits and nutritive value. The high glucose content from honey added with a protein source is an optimal choice for endurance, weight training and muscle recovery. Yogurt and honey as a snack in moderation can also be a low calorie, nutrient food providing an ideal balance of carbohydrates and protein. The nutritive content of honey with the amino acids in yogurt will help to achieve ideal digestion which in turn helps to get better health.

Curd and Treacle

Curd and treacle is a standard delicious snack, and an after meal dessert in Southern Sri Lanka. It is a predominantly a festive food and offered to visitors.


Treacle

Treacle is Kithul pani a sweet honey like product made from Kithul palm similar to palmyrah palm. Kithul toddy is tapped from Kithul trees from inflorescence and boiling this to produce treacle and jaggery. Treacle is a ‘must have’ additive to curd for curd and treacle dish.

In a bowl take some curd and pour treacle on it and eat with a spoon. Treacle can be a substitute to honey in this dish.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk is made from curd by mixing with water and whisking this mixture with a churn or whisk. Use a clay pot preferably the one that was used to make the curd, add water to the curd and dilute the mixture, do not add too much water. Now insert the wooden churn or whisk into the pot and start churning, hold the handle of the churn with both hands and rotate the churn with a to and fro movement of both hands. This agitates the liquid in the pot and slowly butter will separate to the top. Remove this butter and keep churning until all the butter has separated. Collect the butter that has floated to the top and the remaining liquid is buttermilk. The butter is collected over a few days and stored in the refrigerator. When sufficient butter is collected you melt and make ghee. (See Ghee)

This buttermilk is used in cooking curries, also used as a drink on its own or sometimes mixed with pieces of chopped onions and green chillies.

Paneer

Paneer is closely related to curd and should not be missed out of this article. Paneer is fresh cheese which is common and most favourite in Indian cuisine. Paneer is made by adding edible acid like lemon juice or vinegar to hot milk and this separates the curd and whey. The resulting curd is drained in muslin cloth and the excess water is pressed out. The resulting solid is paneer and it is dipped in chilled water for about three hours to improve texture. This paneer does not melt and this is an advantage in that it can be stirred in curries without destroying its texture. This is fresh cheese and as such will not last long and should be kept in a refrigerator and used within a short time.

Further processing depends on different regions in India but commonly this is cut into cubes for use in curries. Paneer is another variation that is available freely in almost all homes in India and used in their cuisine.

The difference in curding milk to make curd is by adding edible acid to warm milk whereas to make paneer you add this acid to hot milk.