Whether you have it piled high with granola and fruit, frozen as a dessert, or in savory preparations (or all of the above) yogurt is an American grocery staple that has become even more beloved in the last few years. It’s high in protein and probiotics which are excellent for digestion and can be great as a light breakfast option. Yogurt can be found in many flavors with many fat contents, and the varieties differ as you travel across the globe, too!
In the past few years, it seems like Greek yogurt is everywhere, in myriad flavors, fat contents, and brands. Like regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is made by heating milk, then cooling to ferment. Greek yogurt, labneh, and other very creamy yogurts are thicker and more decadent because of the repeated straining process (removing the liquid you might find in other varieties). Greek yogurt also packs more of a protein (and fat!) punch than what we think of as regular yogurt. Put some honey and berries on top and you’ve got yourself a perfect breakfast.
Skyr hails from Iceland and is technically thought of as a cheese, though the consistency and flavor are far more reminiscent of yogurt. Skyr has an ancient past, having been mentioned in medieval Icelandic sources, and is said to hail from Scandinavia. Low-fat milk is used in the preparation of skyr, making it high in protein and relatively low in fat. Sub in skyr for an uber-creamy take on your morning Greek yogurt.
This Middle-Eastern yogurt is uber-creamy, thanks to an extensive straining process which renders it thicker than even Greek yogurt. It’s generally made from cow’s milk and eaten throughout the region, often drizzled with some olive oil, topped with a sprinkling of za’atar, and served with flatbreads for dipping. Pronounced “leb-eh” it’s got a spreadable texture that’s reminiscent of cream cheese and is sometimes rolled into balls and submerged in olive oil. Serve alongside eggs and a Greek salad for a lovely Mediterranean-style meal.
Also referred to as “curd”, this South Asian yogurt is often made from cow, buffalo, or goat milk. Eaten from Nepal to India to Bangladesh and beyond, it’s a fermented yogurt and is interestingly often started with dried red chili or their stems. The reason for this is because the chilis are high in a bacteria that promotes fermentation. Pronounced dah-hee, it’s often used as the base for raita, a cooling cucumber sauce served frequently in Indian cuisine in addition to a bevy of other dishes including a yogurt drink called lassi that’s sometimes served sweet, salty, or flavored with mango. If you come across dahi, use it to make a cooling savory sauce or pile it over a hot curry to cool it down!
Unlike spoonable yogurts, kefir is a drink with a yogurt-like flavor and a thin, liquid texture. It contains many of the same antibacterial, probiotic properties of regular yogurt, and can be made of any kind of milk—dairy or non-dairy. Kefir is fermented by small sticky particles called “grains” that ferment the milk and turn it into kefir. You can purchase kefir grain cultures. Kefir is said to have originated in the Caucasus Mountains. For an on-the-go morning meal, consider adding kefir to your routine or pour it into a smoothie.
Matsoni, a yogurt that hails from Georgia and Iran is a form of yogurt that can be supremely easily made at home. Unlike other forms of yogurt, it ferments at room temperature and involves the combination of starter culture and milk along with some time on the countertop. It’s tangy, creamy, and has a slightly tart flavor. Swap this in for your regular storebought Greek yogurt and use it for breakfast and beyond.
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