I've tried to make dahi (indian "curd", or yogurt) a few times, but it has always turned out more like cottage cheese (English "curds and whey") than like yogurt.

This isn't necessarily bad (the whey is great for making pancakes), but it isn't what I'm trying to produce.

Making the starter using peppers is no problem, since there isn't anything critical at this stage, but after that, everything is vague.

I think the biggest problem is that the recipes written by Indians are difficult to understand by Westerners. What's blatantly obvious to everyone there isn't obvious at all to me here.

For instance, I discovered that the verb "boil" in India doesn't mean what it does here. (E.g. recipes that say "boil for a few minutes until lukewarm" don't make sense unless one interprets "boil" as simply "heat".)

  • What does "lukewarm" mean?

  • What does "room temperature" mean? When I got up this morning, "room temperature" was 18°C, but two months ago it was nearly 30°C.

  • How long is "a while" or "until done"? One recipe offered help by suggesting "a while longer if you are in the North".

  • What does "test on wrist to ensure it is the right temperature" mean if I don't know what the right temperature is supposed to feel like?

How should Indian recipes be converted to exact temperatures, specifically "lukewarm" and "room temperature"?

Note: A comment mentions that the above might be considered insulting to Indians.

I was generalizing what I had noticed in Indian recipes, but I definitely didn't mean any of it in a negative way.

It's just a fact of life; every culture has its own obvious meanings that aren't obvious to other cultures.

If I said I picked up a two-four of blue, a mickey of screech, and a couple double-doubles on the way home, almost every Canadian would understand what I meant, but almost no one else would. Or poutine with a bloody caesar. Or Nanaimo bars and butter tarts for a toonie.

I certainly wouldn't be insulted if someone from India asked me what I was talking about.

  • I'd really suggest just asking a specific question without as much of an attempt to generalize to all Indian recipes. "What does lukewarm mean in this recipe?" is fairly answerable, and won't invite debate about the generalizations you've tied in. It also avoids asking multiple questions at once, which doesn't work well on StackExchange. (You can always post separate questions.)
    – Cascabel
    Oct 6, 2019 at 17:53
  • @Cascabel, okay, the question is now specifically about the meaning of two temperature terms. Oct 6, 2019 at 18:05
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    You're misidentifying the problem. It has nothing to do with the recipes being Indian, and has everything to do with them being translated from another language and/or poorly edited. India is a nation of 800m people with probably a million professional cooks, so trying to interpret by citizenship is a fool's errand. You can figure out what a specific cookbook means by certain terms, but extending that to "what all Indians mean" is going to result in a lot of ruined dinners.
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 6, 2019 at 19:05
  • So, -1 from me on re-opening this question. Ray, if you want to ask a question about the specific recipe you're trying to make, I'll be happy to take a stab at it (I cook a lot of Indian cuisine), but not this question.
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 6, 2019 at 19:06
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    I think you should probably start from scratch. As-is, you still have all the generalizations, and all of the multiple original questions. Imagine what someone would've written if theyjust came here to ask "what does 'lukewarm' mean in this recipe?" -- I think it'd be pretty different from what you have here.
    – Cascabel
    Oct 6, 2019 at 19:28

1 Answer 1


OK, 'recipe requests' are off topic here, but as a guide to searching…

There are thousands of 'British' chefs, whose ancestry is not British.
If you look for a recipe on a site ending with .co.uk [or .de or .dk or .se or anywhere except .in] rather than .com then you are likely to find one who's ancestry is 'Indian' but whose upbringing is 'Western'.

To balance this fairly, you are equally likely in this day & age to find some guy called Jock McStereotype*, ginger-haired & Glaswegian-accented, who has spent the past 20 years working as a chef in an Indian restaurant… but that aside…

Those chefs will all know how to do measurements, temperatures, definitions, etc for their 'home' country's target audience.

Alternatively, chefs write books - from Khalid Aziz way back in the 70s/80s [Khalid was an Asian newsreader for the BBC, who was also an accomplished chef in his spare time.] to more modern authors such as Atul Kochar, or even the 'king' of restaurant curries in the 90s, Pat Chapman.

I just checked books on my shelf by all 3 authors - Khalid has a dahi recipe, for a British audience, in 'British' terminology… dated 1983 - so this has been information, easily available to westerners, for over 35 years.
I managed to google that book here - Eat Your Books - The Encyclopedia of Indian Cooking by Khalid Aziz You can browse for free, or buy the whole thing.

*Though he would hate it if I gave any details [so I won't], one of my favourite Indian restaurants has a chef who fits this appalling 'McStereotype'… just to show it is no longer important where someone came from, only how they cook.

  • I've change the Title and final question so that they don't look like a recipe request. to keep this "on topic". My question really was more general than what I originally asked. Thanks. Oct 6, 2019 at 17:32
  • You mention "'British' terminology". Yes, I'm well aware of that difference. Years ago I followed a recipe for turkish delight, not realizing that it was British. It called for "corn flour" as the main ingredient, so that's what I used, and that's why it turned out so badly. British "corn flour" is actually not what one would expect (flour made by grinding corn (maize)), but corn starch (starch extracted from corn). Oct 6, 2019 at 17:37
  • The main 'problem' is the US doesn't have a 'dot country' [or not one that anyone uses] so if you want 'english' then .co.uk or maybe .ca gives you minimum stress. No-one much other than the US uses Imperial any more, so you're a bit out on your own after that. Brits generally understand it & are likely to have both on a site. Other translations, I guess you just have to learn as you go, or see Translating cooking terms between US / UK / AU / CA / NZ
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 6, 2019 at 17:44
  • Indian sites, I guess would use primarily InEng terms, or BrEng. I'd say they are least likely to use USEng terminology, as InEng is an 'offshoot' of BrEng, not USEng.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 6, 2019 at 17:50
  • This search seems to work well: "dahi recipe -site:.in -site:youtube.com". I've already discovered this: "Let’s check the milk is lukewarm or not. You can use thermometer (110 degrees F or 43 degrees C), but who cares for the exact temperature. I do it this way – stick your clean finger in the milk, you will feel like warm water bath (not hot)." I don't know what baths are like in India, but *I certainly wouldn't want to take one at that temperature. Oct 6, 2019 at 18:03

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