For as long as I can remember, my diet has revolved around yogurt. It was one of the first foods I ever ate. It has long been a fixture in my fridge (when I was younger, my dad made it fresh every week). It is what I eat after every meal to digest.
Yogurt was an essential part of my upbringing in the U.S. because it was an essential part of my parents’ upbringing in India. In Indian cuisine, yogurt isn’t just a snack, like it is in America. It’s an ingredient in and of itself. It forms the base of so many great dishes from across the subcontinent, from the simple comfort food of yogurt rice (exactly as it sounds, plus tempered spices) to the vibrant, coconut-based South Indian vegetable dish avial, to the lavishly creamy cardamom-saffron yogurt dessert shrikhand. Dishes like these show that yogurt is incredibly versatile, providing body, tang, and brightness to whatever it is paired with. It can be a sauce, a pudding, a coating, a soup, or a condiment—just to name a few.
It’s impossible to fully capture the breadth of yogurt’s abilities in a single recipe story, but the main takeaway is this: As soon as you start to think of yogurt as a flavoring and a texture, rather than just a sweet breakfast food, your cooking will never be the same.
These five recipes are a good starting point, though India isn’t the only country with excellent yogurt dishes. Look to the cuisines of Iran, Afghanistan, Greece, and Turkey, and you’ll find even more inspiration. I’d like to think you can never have too much yogurt.