Cooking Curry with Yogurt
Many curry dishes include yogurt, giving them a creamy, tangy flavor. Yogurt also helps carry and develop the flavors of other seasonings in your dish, and makes an easy base for a delicious homemade curry sauce. While cooking the meats and/or vegetables in your homemade curry, stir in a few tablespoons of yogurt after everything that needs direct heat has been browned. If you have caramelized onions, garlic, and curry spices in your dish, they will permeate the yogurt and give it a beautiful color and delicious flavor, and as you stir the dish together, the yogurt will break down and make a smooth and creamy sauce for your homemade curry.
Yogurt with Turkish Rice and Spinach
A classic home-cooking meal in Turkey is rice with spinach and ground beef. Cook some white rice according to the directions on the package. (Add extra butter and toasted pine nuts for a more authentic Turkish flavor.) In a separate pan, brown a small quantity of ground beef, drain it, and set it aside. You don’t need much; most homemade Turkish meals use meat sparingly as a flavoring, not the main substance of the dish. If you’d like, you can brown onions and garlic to taste along with the ground beef. Steam fresh spinach leaves (or thaw frozen spinach) and stir the rice, spinach, and beef together with enough yogurt to coat everything evenly. Alternatively, you can serve this delicious Middle Eastern dish with the yogurt on the side. It is a healthy, delicious, and relatively easy meal.
Garlic Yogurt: No, Really!
Another way Turkish cooking uses yogurt is in a delicious (if, to the American palate, counter-intuitive) garlic sauce. My dad once told a Turkish taxi driver that Americans don’t know about garlic yogurt. The taxi driver was astonished.
“Do they have garlic?” he asked.
“Yes,” replied my father.
“Do they have yogurt?”
The driver threw up his hands. “So what are they waiting for!?”
Mix yogurt with fresh minced or crushed garlic and a dash of salt until the texture breaks down to a creamy sauce and the flavor has spread evenly throughout the yogurt. This sauce goes perfectly with roasted vegetables or meat dishes, especially accompanied by fresh-baked Turkish bread (or ciabatta, in a pinch). My family has found it’s best to just tell American guests it’s a ‘special Turkish sauce,’ then when they taste it and are so bowled over they just have to have the recipe, just tell them, “Some yogurt, a little garlic, a little salt…” You’ll be amazed how quickly they’ll convert.