When Americans think of yogurt, they often think of breakfast or dessert. Yogurt is often topped by granola and eaten with sweetened fruit compote. Or, it is loaded with fake sugar, frozen, and served at places called “Fro-Yo Palace” frequented by teenage girls. All over the world, though, yogurt is used in various savory preparations. It is loaded with probiotics, comes thick and fatty (à la Greek yogurt) or thin and tangy, and can add acidity, creaminess, or cooling properties to any dish. The next time that you see a container of plain yogurt in the store, pick it up, and put away the brown sugar. It’s time to go global and to get savory.
Manti are where it’s at for yogurt lovers. These dumplings are comprised of ground meat (usually lamb), spiced with coriander, cumin, and other spices, and wrapped in thin ravioli-like dough. After being boiled, manti are served in a thin, warm yogurt sauce that is infused with garlic and topped with a tomato paste-and-oil mixture. All you do is pour the full-fat yogurt over the manti and let the warmth of the dumplings heat the yogurt, thinning it out. Top it with the sweet and fragrant oil, and go to town!
What is Indian food without raita? Thin, full-fat yogurt mixed with cucumbers and tomatoes, this cooling mixture is a necessity when eating fiery phaal and salty chaat. It provides the creamy, fire-quenching counterpart to Indian food’s other bright, tangy, and spicy flavors. Use it when you make any flavorful vegetarian dish, like lentil soup, creamed spinach, or even cumin-roasted cauliflower.
That’s right: step away from the granola, and embrace the savory side of yogurt. It has a luscious texture and tangy taste that makes it a natural substitute for buttermilk in breads and scones. Complement a chicken salad’s fresh and fragrant herbs with yogurt. And mix it with blue cheese for an all-American burger spread that can’t be beat.