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Yogurt Substitute

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I recently picked up an Indian cookbook (my sweetie loves the cuisine, I am warming up to it). A lot of the recipes call for yogurt, which I can't eat due to lactose intolerance. Any suggestions on a lactose-free substitute?

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This may or may not be helpful for you: One of my lactose-intolerant friends finds that she can tolerate goat's milk yogurt if she takes a Lactaid before eating. I can testify that the goat's milk stuff works fine in Indian recipes.

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What about blending up some silken tofu in a food processor and adding a little bit of lemon juice for some acidity?

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In my recipe book I recommend soy yoghurt for those who can't or don't want to eat yoghurt. It's a pretty good sub, and the alpro soya brand seems readily available. There are lots of other brands too.

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Thanks everyone. I'll be at Whole Foods on Sunday so I will look for the soy yogurts.

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Lactose intolerance may be a lesser affliction than allergy to milk proteins, which disallows any use. The former allows very limited use depending on how severe your condition is:Yoghurt & kefir appear have a lower lactose load than milk or cream in vivo.

Small amounts may be permissible in marinades, or very sparingly in some N.Indian meat dishes [kormas] as a flavoring agent, or in moru kuzhambu, a Tamil soupy preparation where a tiny bit of yoghurt + a greater amount soy yoghurt may be ground up with fresh grated coconut, a small qty. of soaked dal [pigeonpea or some other] and given a tempering. Kadhi is the north Indian version of this yoghurt soup, where chickpea flour is added to create a colloidal suspension and various solids are added.

You can see that Yoghurt is used in a number of different ways in Indian cookery. Here are a few common ways

1. meat tenderizer, e.g. tandoori chicken : here lemon or lime juice might suffice with scant diminution of flavor.

2. various types of yoghurt soups, where soy yoghurts may be used, with tiny quantities of yoghurt added for flavor, if wished.

3. raitas : cool yoghurt based relishes containing cucumbers, carrots, and other things.

4. yoghurt rices,eaten cold/ room temperature

5. pilafs with a yoghurt base: mint pulao, various biryanis

6. gravied meat dishes with a yoghurt base

7. Yoghurt incorporated in bread dough

In some of these, yoghurt can be left out, e.g. mint pulao, w/o too much pain. In the case of biryanis, soy yoghurt will create strange tastes, so better to leave that out and forge ahead.

When you figure out what each dish is, you can determine whether to substitute, and with what.

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Hi! Am new to this forum, and have some questions for you!

I set out to make coconut milk yoghurt,in my yoghurt maker- using full cream canned c. cream.


As culture I used 2 capsules acidophilus, & 2 with four bacteria, including L.helveticus,& rhamnosus,bifido longum, & saccharomyces cerivisiae - (boulardii).


After 24hrs, it looked like a rough, creamy looking bubbly mass, smelling rather yeasty.l stirred it and refrigerated.


QUESTION- is this healthy, and what I should expect? I wonder if it's more like kefir than yoghurt!?? With a delicate digestion, are there any risks with this?

Can I use it for drinking/ as yoghurt/ in my gluten free bread as a starter?


Very grateful for any help!!


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This question piques my curiosity.  Didn't know you could even make yogurt out of coconut milk.

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Hi Marj,


As far as I know, coconut milk does not contain enough protein to set fully as dairy or soya milk will. You will have to add some milk or egg protein to achieve a thicker yogurt, but what you have will be safe to consume.


ETA I think that commercial coconut yogurt is thickened with starches, so you could try that as well.

Edited by Plantes Vertes (log)

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I make coconut milk yogurt regularly, basically the same way that Marj described. It does not thicken unless you add a thickener (I use gelatin if I'm going to eat it by itself). Thickened or not, I think it would work very well in Indian cooking as it has both the tart flavor and high fat content that Indian-style yogurts have. I have been, frankly, disgusted with all non-dairy store-bought yogurts I've tried and would not recommend them for any reason.

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I've always made yogurt by simply adding a couple of tablespoons of the old yogurt to the new mixture.  It's always worked.

I wonder if this might work with coconut milk yogurt also.  Has anyone tried it?  Could this 'milk protein' to which Plantes Vertes?

Marj Drewitt uses a full cream canned coconut.  Plantes Vertes speaks of coconut milk.  Lora says she follows Marj Drewitt.  What about the cream vs milk situation ?



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Darienne, sorry I wasn't clear; I meant one has to add protein from cow's  milk. Neither coconut cream or milk will work because of the nutrient breakdown.


Cow's milk yogurt contains bacteria that thicken the milk and turn it into yogurt in warm conditions, and these can be transferred to the next batch by adding a bit of the previous one. These are not present naturally in coconut milk so they have to be added independently. There will not be a healthy enough colony in coconut milk to start a new batch.

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