Lockdown Yoghurt Since returning to Melbourne in somewhat dramatic fashion earlier this year, the feeling is like being stuck a time warp. On one hand my life in Turkey seems like a distant dream that never really happened. Yet on the other hand my new reality, a life of virtual Covid-19 seclusion in a small suburban flat, seems at times even less real or connected to the world at large. Solitude leads to drifting thoughts and today as I shook a dollop of yoghurt onto my dish of chopped cucumber and tomato my mind drifted back to the land I left behind….the home of yogurt.
As usual the Greeks and Turks will fight tooth and nail over the origins of yoghurt. According to Wikipedia, the origins of yoghurt date back to 5000BC Mesopotamia. Perhaps discovered by accident as a result of poor hygiene, the medical/health benefits later emerged. Certainly Turkish records as distant as 11th century refer to the consumption of yoghurt, fermented by wild bacteria in goat-skin bags, by nomadic Turks. For me, the word itself, mirroring the Turkish word yoğurt with yumuşak ge pronunciation, pushes the argument Turkey’s way.
So today this sleepy lockdown Sunday became the day to knock up a pan of fresh yoghurt as I was taught by Turks. Having left my goat-skin bags behind, I had to make do with an everyday saucepan today. Brought a saucepan of fresh milk to a slow boil and kept it there for 10 minutes stirring to prevent a skin forming. Next, let the boiled cool to body temperature. When you can put your finger in the milk without it feeling either hot or cold, it’s ready. Next slide a dollop, one or two small spoons of pre-existing yoghurt, in my case from Woolworths, in the side of the pan and shake the spoon. Place the lid on the saucepan and wrap in a warm blanket to maintain the body temperature for about 8 hours while fermentation takes place. For me today this means overnight.
Inşallah tomorrow morning I’ll be dolloping fresh Lockdown yoğurt on my Aussie Weetbix. Bonus….fresh yoghurt means fresh ayran, Turkey’s national drink, just add water and maybe a little salt to taste. 14,000 km away now but not forgotten…afiyet olsun!