Almost a year ago, I wrote about my adventures trying to find or make a decent vegan yogurt, as yogurt was the only obstacle keeping me and my partner from becoming 100% vegan. We would eat otherwise vegan meals but I had become dependent on using yogurt to thicken curry sauces and make creamy soups. Our favorite breakfast was makki ki roti (Indian cornbread cooked on the stovetop), which is not the same without lots and lots of yogurt! And I looove raitas and lassis!
So I felt like I had discovered the Holy Grail when I found plain, unsweetened WholeSoy Yogurt. And then I discovered I could make my own yogurt in a crockpot using a little Wholesoy Yogurt as a starter. I was ecstatic. My partner was ecstatic. I wrote a how-to post on homemade vegan crockpot yogurt, and apparently my blog readers were ecstatic, too, because that post has gotten more views (3,500+ views as of 9/3/13) than anything else I’ve written.
However, there’s been a spanner thrown in the works. WholeSoy Yogurt has (temporarily) stopped making yogurt.
The reason? This spring, the co-packing facility they used abruptly shut down, giving them only three days’ notice. The new co-packing facility they found could not keep up with their orders. Now WholeSoy is building their own facility, originally slated to be open in August, now perhaps sometime this fall.
I was blissfully unaware of this until I let my homemade yogurt in the fridge go bad. Oh, well, I thought, I’ll just mosey down to Whole Foods and pick up some more WholeSoy to use as a starter. I didn’t panic too much when I didn’t see the yogurt on the shelves – I assumed that particular Whole Foods just needed to restock. So I Googled to see where else in Charlotte I might buy WholeSoy – Healthy Home Market, maybe? It was only after reading WholeSoy’s tale of woe and realizing I wasn’t going to find any WholeSoy Yogurt anywhere that I began to panic.
My first idea was to obtain some freeze-dried yogurt culture and make yogurt completely from scratch, but all the yogurt cultures I found contained skim milk powder!
Fortunately, readers of my blog came to my rescue! Quite a few people reported success using coconut milk yogurt as their starter along with soymilk, and someone else reported success with almond milk yogurt starter combined with soymilk.
I would not have thought to use coconut milk yogurt as the starter, for fear the yogurt would retain some of the sweet, coconutty taste (although this would not be a problem if you use yogurt mainly for sweet, not savory dishes). The first batch I made did have a hint of the sweet taste. The sweetness was less with the second batch, and by the third batch I couldn’t discern the coconut at all – it was just a tangy yogurt!
One of my readers – Jane – had some additional tips for those that wanted a thicker yogurt (homemade yogurt tends to be thinner than store bought, especially those first few batches), and also for those who had trouble keeping their yogurt warm enough to “set.” I’m reprinting her comment here.
“I used your recipe and it worked! I tried 2 other methods/recipes first that totally failed, so this felt like a major win for me haha. I did add 1 tsp of arrowroot per cup of soy milk and whisked it in before starting, because I wanted a thicker yogurt. WholeSoy isn’t producing any yogurt right now, and the closest I could find to plain was SoDelicious vanilla coconut yogurt. It worked just fine with the SoyDream milk. My oven doesn’t have a light that I can turn on without opening the oven door, so I wrapped my whole crockpot in a fleece blanket, put a heating pad on top of the blanket on low, and laid a heavy towel over top of that. 10 hours later I had a yogurt that had a great yogurty tang, but it wasn’t as thick as I wanted, so I strained it using some cheesecloth in a colander and had Greek style soy yogurt in just over an hour. Thank you for the step-by-step instructions!”
And since this is Vegan MoFo, now that we can all continue making our crockpot yogurt, I’m giving you a bonus recipe today for Namkeen Lassi!
Namkeen Lassis are very different. It’s basically a yogurt smoothie that is salty and tangy instead of sweet.
The first one my partner made for me was simply yogurt, water, salt, and ice whirled in a blender. I honestly had low expectations for the drink, but to my surprise I liked it!
Then I learned that these salty smoothies were actually made a number of different ways. Plain, like the one my partner made for me. Or they might be made with hot peppers, with ground roasted cumin or with toasted cumin seeds, with a touch of cilantro or a sprig of mint.
Today, I prefer mine with just salt and ground roasted cumin. The cumin is actually what “makes” it for me; sometimes I’ve even stirred a bit of salt and cumin in a cup of soymilk!
Be adventurous and try it. It’s especially good on those mornings when your blood sugar is a bit iffy and you just can’t face the thought of something sweet.
– Approximately 1 cup yogurt
– Approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup water (you’ll need less with homemade yogurt, more with storebought yogurt)
– 1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste
– 1/4 teaspoon ground roasted cumin
– Crushed ice
– Add water to the yogurt. It’s best to err on the side of too thick, as you can always add more water later.
– Add salt and cumin.
– Stir very well. I put mine in a personal blender, so it gets nice and frothy on top.
– Serve over crushed ice and enjoy!
yummy! I love namkeen lassi. vegan version..wow! you are a genius.
Thanks, but I’m not a genius – just determined!
Another one of your drinks intrigues me! I have never had cumin in a drink before. But I do enjoy it in curries and chilli bean dishes.
Another sweet cat photo too.
I read your yoghurt post. It was really interesting.
Thanks! The cat in the photo is Tiger. I actually didn’t realize he was in the picture until I pulled the pictures from my camera! I’m sure my third cat Prince Harry will be making an appearance sometime soon. As you might can guess from his name, Prince Harry is a strapping handsome ginger fellow!
This sounds interesting. I consider myself a pescatarian these days. I’ve been a borderline vegetarian most of my life. It’s how my mother cooked when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s and how I’ve sorta continued to eat in adult life.
I knew that at least for now I couldn’t be vegan and was planning to become completely vegetarian this year but decided that for now being pescatarian would continue to strike a happy medium.
Any who, I’ve always loved trying new foods and recipes and looking forward to given this a try.
Quite a few people take some time to transition to vegetarian and vegan. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that because it gives you time to learn and adjust. I was pescatarian myself for a few years before I became vegetarian, and then “close to vegan” for more years before I decided to become vegan.
Let me know how you like the yogurt! 🙂
Yes, lassis are wonderful, and one of the reasons I am on a mission to make my own soy yogurt is so that I can have them. (I am allergic to cow milk). If you visit India you will see that lassi is practically the national drink, along with masala chai. There are cute little shops that offer many yummy versions of it. You can even get them made with marijuana, altho I have heard that these can be very powerful, and tourists have ended up in hospitals and the like after drinking them, so I kept my distance.
Very smart to avoid drugs in a foreign country, under any circumstances! I love lassis, too. Hopefully you will master soy yogurt soon so you can enjoy lassis again.