Portion/Yield:Makes 700–900ml savoury yogurt of one flavour
I have never really had the ambition to make fruit-style yogurts, but recently I had the inspiration to make savoury live cultured yogurt. I have been cooking a lot with yogurt and I use it as a garnish for many of my meat, fish and salad savoury dishes, so I thought I would have a go at making some savoury live yogurts. I was really pleased with the results, so I hope you’ll give these a try too.
It’s easy, I suppose, to make a vegetable purée (like I do in the recipes below) and then simply stir it into Greek yogurt, but the flavour is never quite the same as when you make your own savoury yogurts. The basics of making yogurt are explained below and once you understand these (it’s very easy, by the way), then you can make any flavour that you fancy.
For the tomato-flavoured yogurt, I applied my chef’s knowledge, because I know that raw tomatoes contain enzymes that may destroy the delicate live cultures in yogurt, so it’s important to cook the tomatoes before use to prevent this happening (cooking kills off these enzymes).
I used equipment that I already had to make these yogurts, including a water bath and metal beakers from a pacojet (a specialist chef’s kitchen appliance), but please don’t be put off by this because you can buy an inexpensive yogurt-maker from online stores, including Lakeland Limited (or perhaps you already have one), and this will work just as well as the equipment I use.
When making yogurt, remember the following:
- Follow the temperature guidelines closely and accurately, otherwise the recipe will not work.
- Once you have got the yogurt set up, do not leave it in a drafty place and don’t stir or disturb it for the entire incubation period. If you stir it before the process is complete, the yogurt will ‘collapse’ and it will not thicken.
- The longer you leave the yogurt at the incubation stage, the thicker and more tasty/sour it will become.
- Draining the yogurt is not essential; it depends on how thick you want the yogurt to be. I drain/hang mine, as I like it to be quite thick, but remember that the longer you drain the yogurt, the less (total volume) you will end up with and the thicker it will become.
Ingredients & Method
For the smoky barbecued beetroot and rosemary flavouring
- 120g (prepared weight) fresh raw beetroot (about 2 medium beetroot), trimmed and washed (skin left on)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 50ml cold water
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the oven-roasted carrot, maple and fenugreek flavouring
- 120g (prepared weight) carrots (about 2 medium or 3 small carrots), peeled and left whole
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 50ml cold water
For the tomato, lemongrass and ginger flavouring
- 120g fresh ripe plum or vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato purée
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, trimmed and chopped
- 20g (peeled weight) fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon clear honey
- 50ml cold water
For the live flavoured yogurt (NB the quantities below make one batch of yogurt, to which a quantity of one of the prepared vegetable purées is added to make one batch of flavoured yogurt)
- 1 litre full-fat milk (as fresh as possible)
- 4 tablespoons full-fat Greek yogurt with live active cultures (L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei – standard shop-bought Greek yogurt contains all these cultures; I use the FAGE brand and this works well)
- 1 quantity of prepared vegetable purée (at 42°C) – see flavourings above and method below
First choose the flavour of yogurt you would like to make. Prepare the vegetable flavouring (as below), then use it to make the flavoured yogurt (see further below).
To prepare the smoky barbecued beetroot and rosemary flavouring
I cooked the beetroot on the barbecue (as I was using the barbecue already) and this gave a lovely smoky flavour, but the wrapped beetroot (with the oil, vinegar and rosemary) could also be cooked on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 180°C/Gas Mark for 45 minutes, if you prefer.
For the barbecue method, preheat the barbecue to medium-low (if you have a thermometer attached to your barbecue as I have, then preheat it to about 160°C). Place the beetroot on a piece of foil, drizzle over the oil and vinegar, add the rosemary sprigs, season with salt and pepper, then wrap the foil around the ingredients to make a sealed parcel. Place the parcel over a medium-low barbecue (if your barbecue has a lid, cover it at this stage) and leave to cook for about 2 hours or until the beetroot is completely soft and cooked.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool (still wrapped) for 20 minutes, then unwrap and remove the skin from the beetroot (discard the rosemary). Place the cooked beetroot in a blender with the water and blend together until really smooth, then pass the beetroot mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and leave it to cool to 42°C.
To prepare the oven-roasted carrot, maple and fenugreek flavouring
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Place the carrots on a piece of foil, drizzle over the oil and maple syrup, then add the fenugreek seeds, garlic and thyme, season with salt and pepper, then wrap the foil around the ingredients to make a sealed parcel. Place the parcel on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the carrots are completely soft and cooked.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool (still wrapped) for 20 minutes, then unwrap and transfer the cooked carrots, fenugreek seeds and garlic (discard the thyme stalks) to a blender, add the water and blend together until really smooth. Pass the carrot mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and leave it to cool to 42°C.
To prepare the tomato, lemongrass and ginger flavouring
Place the tomatoes, tomato purée, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, honey, water and salt and pepper in a blender and blend together to make a fine pulp. Pass the pulp through a fine sieve into a small saucepan, then bring the mixture to the boil over a medium heat and boil for 1 minute (this will kill off any enzymes that may compromise the live yogurt cultures). Remove from the heat, then leave it to cool to 42°C.
To make the flavoured savoury live yogurt
While the prepared vegetable purée is cooling to 42°C, preheat a water bath to 42°C (alternatively, use a yogurt maker, which also works very well).
For the yogurt, gently heat the milk in a saucepan until it reaches 90°C, then remove from the heat, pour it into a jug or bowl and chill until it reaches 42°C. Once the milk reaches 42°C, stir in the Greek yogurt and the prepared vegetable purée (which is also at 42°C), then transfer the mixture to a container(s) that fits in the water bath (I used 500ml metal beakers). Cover the container(s) with a lid or cling film, place in the preheated water bath and then leave for about 8 hours (the longer you leave it the thicker and more tasty/sour the yogurt will become). It’s important not to disturb, mix or shake the mixture during this incubation period, and make sure it sits in a draft-free place at room temperature.
Once the incubation period is complete, carefully transfer the flavoured yogurt to a large sieve lined with muslin cloth and set it over a bowl. Place in the fridge and leave it to drain for about 2 hours (or until it reaches the desired thickness). Once drained, transfer the thick yogurt to a clean, airtight container and keep it in the fridge until needed. The yogurt will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Serve the flavoured yogurt as a salad dressing instead of a vinaigrette (it goes perfectly with roast chicken salad), or serve with pan-fried fish such as mackerel, salmon, sea trout or tuna. It is also great served with Kofta-style lamb, beef or pork skewers, or it can be served as a dip with toasted pitta breads, or stirred into soup just before serving.