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Dahi an Indian probiotic food

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body. Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms intended to maintain or improve the "good" bacteria (normal microflora) in the gut.Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species are the most commonly used probiotics.
Dahi is a natural probiotic.

Curd or dahi is a traditional yogurt or fermented milk product, originating from the Indian subcontinent, usually prepared from cow's milk, and sometimes buffalo milk, or even goat milk. It is popular throughout the Indian subcontinent including Nepal, Bangladesh, Srilanka and Pakistan.The word curd is used in Indian English to refer to homemade yogurt, while the term yogurt refers to the pasteurized commercial variety known as heat treated fermented milk.

Curd is a natural probiotic, the intake of which can be beneficial for the immune system. Probiotics provide good bacteria to gut, thus improving gut health. A healthy gut can give you a stronger immunity as 70% of immunity is handled by your gut.
Curd is made by bacterial fermentation of milk. In this process lactose a disaccharide in milk is converted into lactic acid by several probiotic microorganisms. The species involved in the fermentation depends on the temperature and humidity of the environment and may include Lactococcus lactis, Streptococcus diacetylactis, Streptococcus cremoris, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus etc.

Making curd without starter culture:
Curd starter is sometimes made with dried red chillies in hot milk. Milk is boiled and then allowed to cool for a while. When lukewarm, dried chili peppers or their stems are added. The reason for this tradition is that dried chillies are rich in a type of lactobacilli, the bacteria that helps in fermentation of milk to form curd. The bowl is then kept undisturbed in a warm place for 5 to 10 hours or overnight.

Alternatively take two green chillies and wash them well. Pat them dry and place the green chillies into the lukewarm milk. The green chillies should have the stems intact and must be completely dipped in the milk. Cover the milk bowl with a lid and set it aside for 12 hrs.

After the starter is made, or saved from a previous batch of curd, milk is boiled and cooled. In a separate bowl curd is mixed with its whey, and then mixed together with the milk. It is then left to sit undisturbed for 5 to 10 hours. For best results, add 3% skim milk powder. Premix 3% good curd( inoculum / starter culture) in milk, then add to the rest. Keep at 40-45 °C, covered with cloth to avoid cooling. Put in fridge only when it's slightly sour. Avoid harmful bitter taste. Discard the bitter curd, don't use it . This practice can also be applied for making curd from milk substitutes, such as soy milk.

Milk as a source of probiotic bacteria:
Milk and dairy products are the most explored food matrices in the study of new probiotic bacteria. Also, in situ assessment studies on the performance of potentially probiotic bacteria have benefited from milk-based products.

Curd from buffalo milk:
Curd is also prepared from buffalo milk.Buffalo curd or dahi is a traditional type of yogurt prepared from buffalo milk. It is popular throughout the Indian subcontinent. Buffalo milk is traditionally considered better for making dahi than cow milk due to its higher fat content making a thicker dahi mass. Buffalo milk has a higher amounts of protein, fat, lactose, minerals and vitamins than cow's milk. Buffalo curd is usually packaged in clay pots.

Buffalo curd is obtained by bacterial fermentation of buffalo milk. In this process lactose in buffalo milk is converted into lactic acid using several micro-organisms. The species involved in the fermentation are the same as above.

Quality of the curd depends on the starter culture. Fermentation also develops the characteristic flavor and colour of the product.

Buffalo curd can be made in both traditional and industrial forms.
Traditionally buffalo milk is filtered and boiled, the scum is removed and it is cooled to room temperature. A few spoonfuls of a previous batch of curd are added and it is then mixed well and poured into clay pots. These are sealed by wrapping a piece of paper over the pot and allowing it to stand for 12 hours.
Starter cultures consist of microorganisms that are inoculated directly into food materials in order to bring about desired and predictable changes in the finished product.

Starter culture for yogurt:
Yogurt is one of the best natural sources of probiotics which, scientists believe, may lower fat levels in the liver, reduce liver damage, and regulate fats in the blood.
Yogurt is produced using a culture of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria. In addition, other lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are sometimes added during or after culturing yogurt.

Starter culture used for manufacturing of dahi:
(1)Traditionally, the previous day dahi or chhach(whey) containing an unknown mixture of lactic acid bacteria was used as starter culture.
( 2) To manufacture dahi on large scale with predictable uniform quality, the starter bacteria consist of Lactobacillus lactis subspecies.

Starter culture is used for manufacturing of dahi:
Starter or jaman is a small portion of curd that is used to make a larger quantity of it.
Thermophilic starter culture for curd: Thermophilic lactic starters are composed of Streptococci and Lactobacilli having an optimal growth temperature of around 45 °C.

There is lactic acid present in the curd or sour milk. The sourness that we get in the milk is because of the lactic acid. Milk acid or lactic acid is mainly an organic acid and the chemical formula is C3H603.
Thermophilic lactic starters are composed of Streptococci and Lactobacilli having an optimal growth temperature of around 45 °C.
Thermophiles can still ferment lactose at temperatures as low as 20°C and as high as 50°C.

Mesophiles can still ferment lactose at temperatures as low as 10°C and as high as 40°C.

Biochemistry of Curd formation:
Curd is produced by the curdling of milk due to the introduction of Lactobacillus bacteria. The Lactobacillus bacteria use the lactose from milk and produce lactic acid.. The lactic acid coagulates the milk protein casein and results in the formation of curd. Due to the increasing acidity, the milk gets converted to curd.Casein protein present in the milk reacts with the lactic acid present in the curd which breaks the chemical bonds of the milk and forms new bonds thus forming curd. Thus, the curdling of milk is a bio chemical process The result of this process of milk coagulation, or curdling, is a gelatinous material called curd. The processes for making many other dairy products such as cottage cheese, ricotta, paneer and cream cheese start with milk curdling. This is why cheese producers want the milk to curdle.
Add additives like honey, seeds, nuts, cereals, fruits, etc. to enhance the taste. But make sure the additives added in dahi are in limited quantities.
Eat 3 servings of plain, fat-free and unsweetened curd every day.

The major vitamins in curd are riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins enrich the dairy product with essential micronutrients and help your body to remain healthy.

Ayurveda on curd:
"According to Ayurveda Curd is sour in taste, hot in nature, takes a longer period to undergo digestion, increases fat (good for weight gain), improves strength, increases kapha and pitta (reduced Vata) and improves agni (digestive power)," says the expert.
Dahi is an important part of our diet, but Ayurveda feels that curd should not be consumed every day as it is heavy in nature and takes a longer duration to digest. Thus, if we talk in the Ayurvedic way, curd or dahi is good for health but should be taken in moderation.

The best time to eat curd is in the morning or the afternoon. Ayurveda recommends consuming curd after lunch and dinner, as it helps in boosting digestion. Eating curd in night can disturb your sleep cycle and lead to various digestive issues.

Curd should not be heated. It loses its properties due to heating.
*It is best to avoid curd in people with obesity, kapha disorders, bleeding disorders, and inflammatory conditions.
*Both phosphorus and calcium play a very crucial role in developing your bone strength. Hence, consuming curd will allow your body to get the essential elements required to develop the bones. This will reduce the risk of fractures and bone-related diseases.

Here are a few impressive health benefits of curd:
•Improves Immunity.
•Supports healthy digestion.
•Promotes glowing and healthy skin.
•Good for heart.
•Prevents vaginal infections.
•Improves bone and teeth health.
•Helps to lose weight eight.
•Provides energy.
• improves digestion

Best time to consume curd:
Experts agree that consuming curd during the day, preferably after a meal, is best for most people because that helps in optimal digestion and energy levels. However, consuming curd on an empty stomach or before bedtime should be avoided to prevent digestive issues and disrupted sleep.

Curd consumption at night is not recommended by Ayurveda because it causes mucus formation. As curd has both sweet and sour properties, eating it at night may cause mucus to form in the nasal passage. Curd should not be consumed on a daily basis by people suffering from arthritis.

10 curd recipes to fight off summer heat:
Easy curd recipes. The rise in mercury has left all of us craving soothing and easy-to-digest preparations that are easy on the gut.
•Chaach. Butter milk
•Curd Rice.Dahi rice
•Cucumber/Bottle Gourd/Carrot Raita.
•Dahi Idli.
•Dahi Boondi.
•Dahi Chiwda.
•Dahi dip
There are lot many Indian dishes made up from dahi.
Dahi is also used in several side dishes.
Some Indian Dahi dishes:
Masala chhach
Chicken curry
Gujarati curry
Punjabi curry
Punjabi lassi
Mango lassi
Palak with dahi
Curd rice
Dahi Vada
Tangy bhindi with curd
Palak raita
Bitter gourd raita
Lauki raita
Curd sandwiches are a simple and delicious breakfast option that can be prepared in no time. To make this sandwich, spread some curd on a slice of bread and top it with sliced cucumber, tomato, and onion.

Honey mixed with curd: Honey, mixed with curd, is an excellent antibiotic. It is said that in the problem of ulcer, curd and honey work as a brilliant remedy.

Curd with dry fruits: If your bones are getting weaker and your body is in pain, you should eat dry fruits mixed with curd.

संस्कृत का यह श्लोक देखें। सशर्करं दधि श्रेष्ठं तृष्णापित्तास्त्रदाहजित्। सगुडं वातनुद् वृष्यं बृंहणं तर्पणं गुरु।। अर्थात शक्कर मिला हुआ दही – श्रेष्ठ होता है एवं तृष्णा (प्यास), पित्त, रक्तविकार तथा दाह को नष्ट करने वाला होता है।

Information compiled by:
Dr. Bhairavsinh Raol