Homemade Dahi & Yogurt

Prep Time: 7 min, plus up to 10 hours to set Cook Time: 5 min

Homemade Dahi & Yogurt

Prep Time: 7 min, plus up to 10 hours to set Cook Time: 5 min

About This Recipe

All over the world, you find different kinds of fermented dairy products: from European yogurt, to South African amasi, to Greek yogurt, Middle Eastern yogurt varieties, kefir from the Caucasus region, Indian dahi. And so many more. The difference between them is largely due to the different strains of microbes used in fermentation. The tiny bacteria that curdle the milk can produce big differences in terms of texture, acidity, fat content, and flavor. Some ferments are sweeter, others more sour. Some are firm while others are runny. It was only after I learned about kefir and started making it myself that the differences between all of these began to dawn on me. Yet the process to make most of these yogurts is quite similar. Watch the video to see the differences between Indian dahi — the taste of my childhood — and Greek yogurt; and follow the same process below to make your curd of choice.

The Benefits

Dairy yogurt is protein-rich and packed with calcium, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium; it is beneficial for heart health and a good source of energy. Homemade yogurt is also full of probiotics, which may enhance gut health and immunity. It is also free of the added sugars, thickeners, and preservatives often found in store-bought yogurt.

Equipment: Ceramic bowl with cover (6 quart/ 500 ml capacity), the thicker the better.

Note: Use fresh, preferably full-fat/whole milk for a creamier yogurt. Avoid UHT (ultra-high-temperature pasteurized milk).

When setting any cultured dairy, you can use a couple of spoons of starter from a previous fresh batch of yogurt (as in this recipe), or use powdered, freeze-dried culture. The culture from fresh yogurt is more active, so the curd will tend to set well. However, there’s an element of wild fermentation involved, as the strain is at the mercy of the environment. It might go sour or lose its texture after some time. Find active Greek yogurt in the supermarket, and Indian dahi at an Indian grocery. Or you can always use an “heirloom” starter from a friend or family member!

Sachets of dried cultures are available online. With a sachet, the culture is separated and grown under controlled conditions. It tends to be very stable, and the set can be very good depending on the brand you buy it from. But because it’s in a freeze-dried state it can take a couple of batches to activate and set really well. If you do use a sachet, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer as the proportion of culture to milk will vary.


Just over 2 cups (500g) dahi or yogurt
  • 1 pint (500 ml) milk
  • 2 Tbsp active Indian dahi or Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp raw, local honey (optional)


  1. Step 1
    Reserving ½ a cup (125ml) of milk, heat the remaining milk until it comes to a boil, about 180°F (80°C). As soon as it begins to bubble, let it simmer for about a minute, then switch off the heat.
  2. Step 2
    Let the milk cool to about 98°F (37°C). An easy way to check this is to use your body temperature as a gauge: the milk should be slightly warm to the touch, not hot.
  3. Step 3
    You can optionally warm your bowl in a microwave for 30 seconds, or in an oven for about 1 minute. Make sure it isn’t hot though, just warm to the touch.
  4. Step 4
    Pour the reserved room temperature milk into the bowl. Add in the yogurt culture — dahi or Greek yogurt, depending on which one you’re making. Whisk it gently but thoroughly to ensure it evenly inoculates the milk.
  5. Step 5
    To subtly sweeten your yogurt, whisk in raw honey if using. You’ll also get the benefits of the probiotics in honey added to those in your yogurt.
  6. Step 6
    Add the remaining warmed milk to the bowl, stir well, and cover with a lid. Store in a warm place to set. You can wrap the bowl with a warm towel to maintain optimum temperature, or keep it in an oven with the light on. Depending on the season and temperature, dahi will take around 6 to 10 hours; yogurt should take around 5 to 8 hours. To check if it is set, gently tilt the bowl, the curd should jiggle but not flow. To get a firm, thick set, refrigerate the bowl for an additional 4 hours, and ideally overnight.

Level Up: Greek yogurt is typically strained for a thicker consistency; Indian dahi can also be strained to make chakka dahi or hung curd. You can also use homemade dahi to make a salted lassi.