Getting a staple down right

I was living in England, spending my time with a group of friends from India and Pakistan when I got the recipe for homemade yogurt. It is a staple in southeast Asian cooking, used as a marinade in addition to desserts and drinks. It’s typically made at home, and families are known to keep a yogurt starter going for several decades. In fact, the starter that I’ve been using for years now, was passed along from a medical student of mine, who has had it in his family for more than 20 years.

Making yogurt is easy task for me now. It has become a permanent routine now for us. The process of making yogurt is much more forgiving than it’s often made to seem. Storing and transporting the yogurt starter is very forgiving as well. It can be neglected for weeks at a time, and still serve its purpose to inoculate a new batch of boiled milk.

Though not totally scientific, it is the easiest way I know to make yogurt, and I think it makes the process more intuitive.

-take a small or medium saucepan, fill it a little more than halfway with whole milk.

-Bring to a boil slowly, then remove immediately from heat to let it begin cooling.

-Turn an oven on to the default temperature, then when it reaches that temp (usually around 250 F), turn it off.

-When yogurt reaches the temp where you can hold your finger in it for 10 seconds, drop a tablespoon of a high quality, plain yogurt into it (siggis is good) and stir once. The liquid from a previous batch of yogurt works as well.

-Cover the pot with the lid, wrap the whole pot in a towel, then put the pot wrapped in a towel in the turned off warm oven.

-Leave there overnight with the oven light on. By the morning it should be solid.

Place into the refrigerator to cool fully before eating.


If it is still liquid in the morning: Leave it longer, it may be that the temperature was not warm enough. Alternatively, bring the oven temp up again to around 120 degrees F and turn it off, and place the yogurt there again and wait a few hours more.

A shot of a freshly made batch of yogurt, circa 2022