Fermented Milk Products from All Over the World • Dahi (Pakistan)
Dahi is a fermented milk variety widely consumed in India, which can be translated as “curd”. Many people, especially those that come from outside India and who are not familiar with the product, take dahi and yogurt as one and the same thing. Well, the truth is that the two are different, as the making process of each has several different particularities. They are not that significant, but they do influence the characteristics of the final product. Thus, if yogurt is made by pasteurizing milk, dahi is prepared by boiling it only, allowing it to cool down at room temperature so that the curd, coming from the milk of the previous day, to be added in order to culture the milk and create dahi. The bacteria involved in the fermentation process turn milk’s lactose into lactic acid, which is much better tolerated by people with lactose intolerance, as it doesn’t trigger any digestive issues or discomfort. What kind of bacteria is present during this process? Well, the species differ as they are influenced by the surrounding temperature and humidity. But, they are usually any of the following species: Lactococcus lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus, Streptococcus cremoris, Streptococcus diacetylactis, and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus as the last one is imported in the last few years.
In Pakistan, dahi is preponderantly made with cow’s milk, as cows are considered as sacred animals in the country, although buffalo’s milk or goat’s milk can also be used. To make dahi, milk is brought to the point of boiling and then allowed to cool down until it reaches temperatures between 30 to 40 degrees Celsius. Then, about a tablespoon of curd is added to the milk, which has lactic acid bacteria, the ones that will separate the curd in the fresh milk. The previously mentioned temperature is ideal for the bacteria to multiply and thrive, so the curd will result in just a few hours, especially if the milk is allowed to stay in a warm spot. Curd or dahi is extremely healthy, as it contains no lactose, therefore being very good for people with lactose-related issues, and it is also a great source of calcium. This is why it is considered not just as a refreshing snack, but also a great thing to eat after meals with spicy foods, as it is believed to aid digestion and calm down the intestines.
Dahi is also used in a variety of savory dishes, such as dahi chawal or dahi rice and doi maach or fish in curd curry.