Here Is How You Can Make Creamy Dairy-Free Curd Without Any Starter!
5 Cups Water
1 Cup Raw Peanuts
⅓ Cup Rice (any kind)
2-3 Medium Green Chilies
You know sometimes you discover something wonderful totally by chance? That's how I learned to make the perfectly set, creamy vegan curd without any starter. I was a regular consumer of dairy, especially curd, during my pre-vegan days. I used to make raitas every other day, lassis quite often in summer, and curd-based dishes like kadhi and dahi-wale aloo several times a week. I also loved to have curd with a generous amount of sugar as a quick dessert. What the heck! I even used to condition my hair with curd and lemon juice before shampooing.
I had no idea about non-dairy curds when I went vegan. Initially it was inconvenient managing without something I was so used to, but with time I adapted. I learned to make curd-free kadhi and realized that you don't need to have raita with every meal. Months passed and one day I learned that you could make non-dairy curd at home. Now I was intrigued—if I could still enjoy curd without contributing to the cruel dairy industry, then why not?
Many recipes for vegan curd suggest the use of chili stems to set the curd in case you don't have a starter. I dutifully followed the instructions in the recipes but failed miserably again and again. I was definitely doing something wrong; what, I still didn't know. But, of course, I wasn't going to give up.
One day, I was yet again preparing to set a bowl of curd curd. I boiled the milk and let it cool down a bit while I went to the refrigerator to fetch a few chili stems. But none of the chilies had a stem! All of them had already been beheaded during previous attempts at making curd. Now that I had no other option, I picked up a couple of the headless chilies, broke them into 2-3 pieces each, and dropped it into the warm milk.
And guess what? The curd was set perfectly the next morning! I tried the same process a couple more times to confirm that this method actually worked; and it did! The same method works with both peanut milk and peanut-rice milk; I prefer the latter as it's mild in flavour.
1. Soak the peanuts and rice separately for 8 hours or overnight.
2. Drain the water and rinse the peanuts and rice well.
3. Blend the soaked peanuts and rice with one cup of water to form a smooth paste.
4. Add two more cups of water to the paste and blend again.
5. Strain the mixture to get the raw peanut-rice milk.
6. Repeat step 4-5 with the peanut-rice paste and the remaining 2 cups of water. This is your raw milk.
7. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring time to time. Take care that it doesn’t boil over and spill. This milk behaves exactly like dairy milk in some aspects.
8. Let it simmer for 7-8 minutes till the raw smell of rice is gone--the milk should now have the consistency of full cream dairy milk. If the milk is thicker, add some more water.
9. Turn off the heat and let it cool down until it’s just lukewarm, i.e. you can comfortably dip a finger into it.
10. Break the chillies into 2-3 pieces each and drop into the slightly warm milk.
11. Cover and keep it to set on the kitchen counter for as long as you would need for dairy curd according to the climatic conditions in your city.
12. Take out the chilli pieces once the curd is set and refrigerate. The curd will continue to ferment for as long as the chilli pieces are in it.
Curd set with chili pieces has a mild chili flavor. You can’t use it to make sweet dishes though it works perfectly in savory dishes like kadhi, raita and chaach. You can also use this curd as a starter to make a new batch of curd.