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How can I make a thick and creamy vegan curd or yogurt at home?

Here in South India the temperature is very suitable for fast fermentation, but I am not sure which ingredients or fermenting agents to use.

3 Answers 3

7

After numerous failed experiments I came across this YouTube video in which chef Nupur Sampat makes impressively creamy curd from peanuts, with no thickeners, sweeteners, expensive probiotics or complicated steps. It looked too good to be true, but I tried it in my kitchen and it worked perfectly first time.

Since I don't like the taste of raw peanuts, I roasted some peanuts and tried it with those too. That also worked great. I was able to use the curd every way, even with plain rice and pickle or with oats and a little date syrup. I will try this method with other milks and update this post, and I'll try to add pictures too.

I've tried with raw almonds and the result was very delicious, but did not set much.

Ingredients:

  • 100g peanuts (it still works if you use less; curd will be thinner)
  • 500ml filtered water
  • 4 green chillies (don't panic)

Equipment:

  • Blender
  • Tea strainer, small fine sieve, or cheesecloth
  • Saucepan or milk pot

How to make:

  1. This step is optional. Dry roast the peanuts until golden in a heavy pan or oven
  2. Soak the peanuts for 4-8 hours in filtered water
  3. Grind the peanuts in a blender with about 300ml water
  4. Strain the peanut milk into a saucepan, pressing to extract as much as possible
  5. Put the fibre back into the blender with the remaining water and blend again
  6. Strain this into the pan too
  7. Boil the peanut milk and remove the skin. Transfer to a ceramic container suitable for fermenting the curd
  8. While it cools down, wash the chillies and then carefully pull off the crowns, keeping them intact. Do not cut the chilli, as the microorganisms we need are under the stem. You can keep the chillies themselves and use.
  9. When the milk has cooled to body temperature (bowl should feel only a little warm), add the chilli tops and stir around a bit. Cover with a cloth or loose lid and leave for 8-12 hours
  10. Discard the chilli crowns and transfer curd to the fridge. If it has not set, but there is setting around the chilli crowns, it has actually worked and it will set in the fridge in a few more hours.

For future batches, you may use your old curd as a fermenting agent.

Thanks Nupur, for the awesome recipe!

2

I know this is an old question, but after having come up with an easy method and used it for almost 2 years for hundreds of liters of yogurt, I wanted to share.

Once you've started, you need only one ingredient, soy milk. For the whole process, you only need 1 additional ingredient, vegan yogurt starter. I use an Instant Pot brand pressure cooker to sterilize and ferment. Any pressure cooker with a yogurt function would work. In warmer climates, you could probably get away with leaving it on the counter.

Ingredients

  1. Shelf-stable high protein soy milk
  2. Vegan yogurt starter culture

Soy Milk

Getting the right soy milk is the key to the whole procedure. Once you have access to that, it's a piece of cake. I'm lucky, because it's available within walking distance of my apartment. You want something that:

  • Contains as few ingredients as possible, especially no emulsifying agents or thickeners (like lecithin or gums). Ideally you want soybeans and water.
  • Is high in protein, this makes the yogurt thick after fermentation. The kind I use has 3.8g protein per 100mL. Compare that to soymilk in the refrigerator section with 2.9g/100mL.
  • Is shelf stable. These products are highly pasteurized which ensures there are no other bacteria / yeast to out compete your culture.

Starter culture

I used Cultures for Health brand starter culture (obviously I have no affiliation). I'm sure there are other brands that will work just fine. The package came with 4 sachets. After 2 years, I've only used one (see below). For the first time, you can suspend the culture in a small amount of soy milk and distribute it evenly between jars. I used one packet for 950mL (32oz) the first time.

Preparing the fermentation vessels

I use wide mouth mason jars to ferment my yogurt. I place them in the Instant Pot, along with the lids and a large spoon, and pressure cook them with a small amount of water in the bottom for 5 minutes. This ensures there are no other bacteria in the containers.

Inoculating the soy milk

  1. Allow the containers to cool down such that you can touch them. The room temperature soy milk has enough thermal mass to decrease the temperature enough such that the culture won't be harmed.
  2. Fill the mason jars about 80% full with soy milk. Try not to stick your finger or anything else that's dirty into the soy milk.
  3. Using your sterilized spoon, scoop a small amount (say 30mL or 2tbsp) of your previous batch of yogurt into the soy milk.
  4. Stir to ensure the old yogurt (and its good bacteria) is well dispersed.
  5. Fill up the jar as needed with extra yogurt

Fermentation

  1. Transfer the filled / inoculated jars to the Instant Pot
  2. No need for the lid
  3. Close the Instant Pot and ferment using the yogurt setting for as long as you like. The longer you ferment, the more tangy it gets. I ferment for 14 hours.
  4. Remove the yogurt from the instant pot, place the sterilized lids on the jars and transfer to the fridge.

The result is very thick yogurt. After a few days, a bit of clear liquid will separate from the "curd" that can be poured off to further thicken the yogurt. The cost of the soy milk + electricity is about the same as cow milk yogurt (although cow milk is highly subsidized in the US).

I typically make 4 jars. When 3 have been opened, I use the first bit of the 4th unopened jar to inoculate the next batch. This decreases the risk of contamination.

I use it to make all sorts of recipes that include yogurt including tzatziki and south Indian curd rice. It also makes a great parfait with a bit of maple syrup and fresh fruit. My mother-in-law is from the south of India, and she approves.

1

I am now making curd from a mixture of cashews and almonds. My current curd has been going strong for about a year now using the previous batch to innoculate the new one. I used OneGood peanut curd to start it off, but previously I was using broken wheat with better results than chillies - I describe the process below:

Starter

  1. Sterilize a jar by boiling it and let it cool down (optional step)
  2. Place 1/2 cup of water in the jar with 1 tbsp broken wheat and 1 tsp jaggery or sugar
  3. Leave the jar partially covered for 12-48 hours (depending on the climate), until the water surface becomes slightly bubbly and smells fermented (discard if it smells bad).

Curd

  1. Soak 1/3 cup cashews and 1/4 cup almonds in water overnight (I keep them in the fridge), drain and rinse.
  2. Peel the almonds
  3. Grind the nuts in a blender, then add 1/3 cup water and grind again until smooth, then add 1/3 cup more water and blend again.
  4. Transfer the milk to a bowl or jar and add 2-3 teaspoons of the water from the starter (discard the broken wheat itself) or preferably a spoonful of the previous batch of curd.
  5. Partially cover the container (if the weather is cold, wrap it in a cosy towel) and leave for 6-12 hours (check frequently), until it sets somewhat and tastes like curd. Subsequent batches made using curd as a starter take far less time (2 hours is enough here in South India).

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