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Dahi is a natural unpasteurised yoghurt eaten as-is and an ingredient in India, aka curd in Indian English (different to curd in Br/Am E. though). Khatta dahi is more soured (khatta means sour).


What's a good commercially-available (outside of India/Asia) substitute? Natural yoghurt for dahi, plus some (how much?) soured cream for khatta dahi perhaps?

I don't think commercial natural yoghurt could be soured at home, since my understanding is that they pasteurise it (to prolong shelf-life) before re-introducing the desirable bacteria (but not the undesirables).

Or perhaps dahi is often only used because it's so common anyway, and actually if we're substituting it needn't be a yoghurt at all; we could just use (soured, for khatta) cream? - which is of course higher in fat, but so is buffalo milk, which is also used (I'm not sure whether it or cow's is more common) for dahi in India anyway.

  • I haven't had Indian yogurt, but what is the problem with storebought western yogurt? That the taste is not sour enough, or something else? – rumtscho Jan 20 at 13:34
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There is quite a big difference in the process of making dahi vs yoghurt (aside from pasteurisation), as yogurt is made with bacteria (called yogurt cultures) and curd is made by curdling milk with an acidic agent (like lemon juice).

I would personally use full-fat greek yogurt and add a little fresh lemon juice to the yogurt for a quick-fix. You could, however, follow this recipe to make sour yogurt. I see the author also suggests just adding lemon juice to yogurt as a faster solution.

Let me know if this worked for your recipe!

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    My understanding is that dahi also involves bacterial fermentation (i.e. it literally is a type of yoghurt) - traditionally by introducing kashmiri chillies, or with a starter saved from a previous batch? – OJFord Jan 20 at 9:37
  • Or put another way, without fermentation - just reduction and curdling - aren't you making paneer? – OJFord Jan 20 at 9:54
  • Yes, I understand that generally they are both made at home or restaurants using a starter from a previous batch to save time. I've always understood dahi to be curd, not yogurt, therefore I've always made 'dahi' (as I thought) at home by adding lemon juice to milk or cream and leaving it to curdle for a bit. The resulting texture is very similar to yoghurt or sour cream, after mixing, and has always worked well in my recipes. In either case, the methods for souring your yogurt as I've mentioned in my original answer should work well, especially seeing as dahi = yogurt, as I've just learned :) – Bonita Jan 20 at 10:16
  • I do have some ('whipping' here in UK, 36%, so ok on heat) cream to use up soon, so perhaps I'll try that first, curdling with lemon as you suggest. Then perhaps try Greek yoghurt another time, or even try making dahi to compare... Thanks! – OJFord Jan 20 at 11:14
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Natural yogurt is a perfect substitution for Indian style Dahi. That's what I use in all my recipes and I originate from the Indian subcontinent. Look out for low-fat or zero fat varieties. Lower the fat, more sour they are usually. At least this is what I have seen with natural yogurts in UK. You can mix in some lemon juice to add sourness since pasteurised yogurts commonly found here are not enough sour.

In Indian subcontinent, almost always the starter is from a previous batch and it's not pasteurised, hence the difference in taste and sourness. Older the starter, more sour the resulting yogurt is.

If you have any ethnic shops around you, you might be able to find some brand that will closely resemble. They are usually marked as 'Indian style' on the package.

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