How To Make Curd | Dahi | Indian Yogurt
How to make curd or dahi at home with just 2 ingredients. Curd known as Dahi in Hindi, is a traditional yogurt made and enjoyed in India for a millennia. Well known for its probiotic qualities, regular consumption of curd is believed to improve the overall health and well-being. Making curd at home is super simple and you don’t need any special equipment. I will show you how easy it is with my step by step guide! You will also find lots of practical tips and tricks to troubleshoot all curd making problems.
Curd is a traditional fermented dairy product that originated in Indian Sub-Continent. The word “dahi” may have derived from the Sanskrit word “dadhi” that translates to “sour milk or fermented milk”. So it is a traditional fermented food made with milk and a bacterial culture.
We Indians grew up eating curd almost every day in some or the other form. We serve it at the end of every meal either on its own or in the form of curd rice, chaas/ buttermilk, lassi etc.
A lot of Indian dishes like raita, kadhi and curries are also made using Indian yogurt. We also use it as a tenderizer in a lot of meat based recipes. So curd is a staple in Indian cuisine.
I have grown up enjoying farm fresh milk and homemade curd (Indian yogurt) while I was in India. When I relocated to Singapore, dealing with commercial processed milk (homogenized & pasteurized) was a new experience to me.
Making curd with raw fresh milk that is not processed at all is super easy! But if you are using homogenized and pasteurized milk then you may encounter tons of problems like slimy yogurt, sour yogurt or curd in which whey separates or yogurt which does not set at all etc.
I too had all of these troubles. Over the years after making several failed batches I learnt a lot about making the perfect thick and creamy curd using processed milk.
In this post I have shared all my experiences as tips to get the curd right (thick, creamy & delicious). If you are one among those lucky people who do not have any hassles in making it, this post may not be for you.
I have also shared how to make yogurt without a starter using chilli stalks.
How To Make Curd (Stepwise Photos)
If you have a instant pot, follow my recipe card to boil the milk.
1. Rinse a large pot and pour the milk to it. Rinsing the pot reduces the chances of milk solids settling at the bottom. Bring milk to a boil on a low to medium flame.
2. If you do not like cream layers on the curd, then keep stirring to reduce the formation of layers of cream. We do not mind the cream so I avoid this step.
3. I usually boil the milk on a medium flame.
4. When the milk comes to a boil, then I reduce the flame to very low and allow to simmer for 10 to 15 mins. This enhances the flavor and also makes the curd thick.
5. Remove from the stove and allow to cool down to luke warm temperature.
6. Decide on the amount of starter to use depending on the milk and kind of starter. I have explained this above the recipe card. Please read that.
7. Add the starter when the milk comes down to warm temperature. 1 tsp to tbsp depending on the kind of milk, weather conditions and starter. Read the tips on how to make thick curd by frothing milk from the end of this post.
8. Mix very well until the curd has blended well with the milk.
9. Transfer it to a bowl. You can also set the curd in the same bowl or in a clay pot. I prefer to froth up the milk. Scroll down to know more.
10. Cover with a lid and keep in a warm place until set for 6 to 10 hours depending on the weather. Avoid disturbing or moving the bowl before the curd is set. Some people use a broken red chili to set the yogurt well. If needed break a red chili and just put it in the milk. This will not make the curd spicy or hot.
Pro Tips To Make Thick Curd
This is a tip which we follow to make thick curd at home. This method is also good if you do not like cream layers on the curd. This technique breaks down the cream layer and disperses the fats to the milk making the curd rich and tasty.
When the milk is still hot, froth up the milk by pouring it to another bowl or pot. To and fro, a few times breaks down the cream and the milk froths up very well.
Add the culture or starter when the temperature of milk is slightly higher than warm but not hot. Stir well.
Then quickly pour to the bowl, cover and rest in a warm place. Towards the end of the process the milk should still be warm. To get this right, you will have to try a few times. But this method surely gives thick and more tasty homemade curd.
How To Make In Individual Bowls
The process is the same but to ensure the curd is set well, I add an extra quarter tsp of curd to every half cup milk. This method of setting curd in individual bowls is preferred by many as scooping out little curd every time from a large bowl disturbs the entire bowl and leaving behind lot of whey.
After refrigeration curd becomes slightly more thick.
1. Always use full fat milk or whole milk only. As diluted milk or low fat milk will not set your dahi well and makes it watery with more whey.
2. Why does your curd become sticky or slimy?
- using starters like greek yogurt or any sticky one will yield a sticky curd. (I use Nestle Asli as the starter, the results are non-sticky).
- It depends on the milk too (depends on the feed of the cows), some milk yields a sticky curd. Especially the milk from the grass fed cows turn slimy. Just try with a different brand.
3. How much curd or dahi to use as starter purely depends on 3 basic factors.
- The kind of milk you are using – homogenized or non homogenized. Homogenized milk require more starter. As the milk is processed and the particles are broken down to minute in order to keep them apart which helps in increasing their shelf life. Dahi does not set well if you use less starter for homogenized milk.
- On the other hand, non homogenized milk needs less starter as they tend to set well and faster. Adding more will make your curd sour. So adjust the amount of starter accordingly. (I have mentioned the quantity in the ingredient list).
- The kind of starter you are using – gelatin or non gelatin. If your starter has gelatin in it, you have to use more starter. If the starter is a non-gelatin one, you can use lesser. (quantities mentioned in ingredients)
- The Season – if you are making yogurt in winters, need to use more starter. Adjust the quantity as per the season.
Places Where Curd or Dahi Can Set Well
- Place the bowl of milk in the casserole or a thermocol box.
- Wrap a warm cloth or woolen scarf to the bowl and keep inside the kitchen cabinet or shelf.
- Can place inside a big rice storage container.
- You can also place in oven with the light bulb on. If you have a oven with settings to make yogurt. Turn it on and place it until set.
UPDATE: Many readers have been asking
How To Make Yogurt Without Culture?
How to make curd without using curd / dahi ?
There is a age old method of making curd without using curd followed by rural women in South India. These women used to make their own culture to use as a starter. I have tried making this to check if it really works and yes it does.
Bring milk to a boil. Let the temperature come down to warm. Then add 8 to 10 stalks or stems of red chilies for every 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the warm milk. Set this aside in a warm place until set.
How long? it certainly depends on the climate. It took 5 hours for me to set the curd. But this may not be good to use directly. I am not sure if it is healthy to eat.
So I did make fresh yogurt using the one I made earlier as starter(curd with chili stalks). I added 1 tbsp of the above set dahi to one cup milk and set aside for 8 hours. Then I got thick curd.
Here are some recipes where you can use yogurt
How To Make Curd | Dahi Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 liter milk full fat or whole milk
- 1 tsp curd or dahi or yogurt as starter (increase to ¾ to 1 tbsp. if it is gelatin based or you are making this in winters)
- 1 dried red chili broken (optional)
- Rinse a pot well. This reduces the chances of milk solids getting stuck to the bottom.
- Pour milk and bring it to boil on a medium to low flame.
- To get thick curd, once it comes to a boil simmer the milk for 15 mins on a very low flame.
- Keep stirring in between else the milk will get burnt and smell bad.
- Simmering step is to get a very thick curd. You can skip this if you are ok to have a moderately thick yogurt.
How To Make Curd or Yogurt
- Allow the milk to cool down.
- If you are intending to use a curd culture that has come down to room temperature, then allow the boiled milk to come down to luke warm temp.
- But if you are using the culture directly from the fridge, then the temperature of the milk must be mildly warmer than the luke warm.
- Immerse your clean finger in the milk and check.
- Add a tsp of curd to the warm milk and stir well. You will have to experiment with the amount of starter to use.
- In India, my mother uses less than half tsp for 1 liter milk as it is not homogenized milk. But in Singapore I use about 1 tbsp or even more for 1 liter. It depends on the milk, climate and starter.
- Cover & move the bowl to a warm place.
- Allow it to set for 6 to 10 hrs depending on the climate.
- If you wish to set the curd well, you can break a red chili and drop it in the milk. it is optional and does not make the dahi or curd spicy or hot.
- If you live in a cold place, then keep it in a casserole or thermocol box or oven with the light on.
- Next if you intend to make curd in small bowls, check the step by step instructions after the recipe card.
- When the curd is set, move it to refrigerator.
Instant Pot Curd
- Ensure your sealing ring and instant pot are clean and are free from any kind of strong flavors from the previous cooking. Pour 1 cup water to the steel insert of your instant pot.
- Pour 4 cups of milk to a stainless steel bowl. Place a trivet and then place the bowl of milk over it. Do not cover the bowl.
- Secure the instant pot with the lid and position the steam release value to sealing. Press pressure cook button and set the timer to “zero”.
- The Instant pot beeps when it is done. Let the pressure release naturally. Carefully remove the bowl and let the milk cool down to warm temperature.
- When the milk is warm, place your clean finger to ensure it is not too hot. It must be warm. Stir in half teaspoon yogurt and place the bowl back on the trivet in the instant pot. The pot should not be too hot.
- If you live in a cold region or during winters, you may turn on instant pot & press the yogurt button. But during other times, you don’t need to turn on the instant pot at all. I usually place the bowl in the instant pot without turning it on. The residual heat from the previous cooking will be enough to set the curd.
- It will take 6 to 8 hours for the curd to set well. Remove the bowl and place it in refrigerator.
- If you are new to making curd, I suggest reading the entire post for more details.
- Frothing the milk will make it thicker. Please scroll down to know the details.
- Do not add yogurt to hot milk. It will coagulate the milk.
- Using sour starter will yield a sour dahi.
- If the milk does not set well, try again with fresh milk in different ways by increasing the culture, keeping it in a warmer place, adding your culture to warmer milk.
- Making good curd at home comes by experimenting & experience. Try different ways with different starters, different brand of milk and even in different places in your kitchen.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Recipe post first published in November 2014. Updated and republished in July 2021.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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I failed so many times, what brands of whole milk did you use?
Try my recipe it will come out well. I use pura and marigold fresh milk. For starter you can use something like pauls
Great recipe. What’s the shelf life of this please ?? Anyone can tell ?
It stays good for 4 to 5 weeks in the refrigerator.
For many years I have been using heavy cream to make thick curd. After seeing your recipe I stopped using that and just boil the milk a little longer. I love how it turns out after refrigerating. Thick and better than Greek yogurt. Never going to use cream again! Thank you!
Glad to know Netra. Happy to know the recipe worked out well for you.
Thank you so much
Hi. Under what kind of starter to use, you’ve mentioned gelatine or not gelatine starter. Can you please explain what gelatine starter is? I always thought that you start your curd using existing curd i.e either a tablespoon out of yesterday’s curd or from store bought dahi. Could you please explain in greater detail about starters and what is a gelatine starter? Also, is the natural yoghurt found in Europe a different bacterial culture than the Indian one, because I find a difference in flavour between the two – the Indian one has far more taste I find. Thanks.
I know how to make curd but could not get thick curd. Your tip on boiling for another 10 – 15 minutes was extremely helpful. Thank you so much. I use a whisk to mix the starter with the milk which froths the milk which saves the step of pouring into another vessel. Thanks again.
Glad the tip worked for you. Yes using a whisk is easier. Thank you!
Hey , why my home set curd smells like …. ? Even though milk doesn’t smell or taste like ….. Please give tips. I use nandini blue pack milk
Thanks in advance
I had to moderate your comment. I was in Bangalore for 4 months, till Feb this year. I too had many experiences like this with nandini. I tried all their different colors from orange to blue. I could smell the pesticide or chemical. I stopped using that. You should switch over to some other brand. Organic milk is worse too. I have tried a few and they smell like raw egg. I think you should keep trying out other brands. I heard country delight is better, haven’t tried though. Hope this helps.
Thanks.will definitely try.
Hi there, can you please share where you bought those pots from? They are so beautiful I am having hard time to find clay pot in US.
These are just regular bowls from crate and barrel. Clay pots require proper cleaning and maintenance.
Thank you for the recipe. I have a doubt the curd that happens to set in stainless steel I have trouble with matka. It matka only the bottom gets set with curd nd top part is oy milk not even half-half even after waiting for 10 hours. Please help
Sometimes yogurt can take up to 24 hours to set well (without turning sour). I think it has nothing to do with the matka. I guess the milk cools faster in the clay pot so it is unable to set. Keep it in a warm place & it could be your starter too. Use more starter especially if using store bought. If it doesn’t turn sour or bitter, you can leave it longer. It shouldn’t be a problem. It takes 18 to 24 hours for my yogurt to set in Bangalore. Keep trying out in small quantities.
Thank you! Worked out wonderfully! My yogurt turned out perfect in the 4th trail. Earlier always ended up with slimy yogurt.
Glad to know Pragya
I love to know well how to cook yougurt or curd
Hello Swasthi! I am excited to try your recipe! I have never made homemade yogurt before, so I do not have any curd to start with. What should I use for curd with if I do not want it to come out sour? I am in the United States
Start with warm milk and red chilli stalks. It won’t go sour. Please read the post completely so you know how that method works. Note that you will have to make a new batch using the culture from the first batch.
I made this recipe yesterday and set it overnight. This morning I awoke to the most delicious, creamy yogurt in my Instant Pot! I chilled it and for lunch I had a cup of it with some raw honey and softened wheat berries on it. I’m setting aside a glass jar of your supreme yogurt as a starter for the next batch. I use yogurt every day and making it at home is much cheaper than buying it & it tastes better!
Thank you for so much goodness! 🙏
So glad you made it! Love the way you serve it.
Thank you so much!
Thanks I want to get good amount of butter for seva..can I put malai fresh cream in fresh hot milk…and than prepare dahai..
Yes you can do it
Your instructions are perfect. Could you please advise how to make Curds using homogenized milk such as Amul Taaza. Many thanks and keep your Recipes rolling.
Thank you! This recipe will help you make good curd even with homogenized milk. Hope this helps.
Hi Swashti. Thanks for this. I’ve tried it three times and it’s great. I’m trying to get a more sour flavor though. I read your comment about setting the starter in a warm place. Do I wrap it in a blanket and use it eight hours later? Two of the three times I used the same milk from the same bottle and same starter, one came out slightly slightly sour. the only difference was the amount of milk I used. How does that impact the sourness? Or the temperature of the milk? Thank you so much!
Yes you can if you want. But you can also leave it for 24 hours or so near your stove or any other warm place. Also use more starter. For 4 cups milk use as much as 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Hope this helps
This recipe is the best. I have made curd all my life but never came out this perfect. All the tips you mentioned here are so much helpful to make thick curd. More over the tip to make it without a starter is even more wonderful. Bookmarking this. Thank you so much for the help.
I made dahi for the first time and it was a success!
Your recipes and instructions are so easy to follow.
Thank you for the recipe 🙂
Glad to know the recipe helped. Thank you so much for leaving a comment
I am in Toronto and I have humid and cold weather here. But your recipe is different than what I do so I have to try. The fat milk is definitely going to be a plus point. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for the detailed recipe. I noticed that you said you relocated to Singapore. I’m in Sg at the moment. I tried to make the starter with the chilli stalks but no luck even after 15 hours. Can you please suggest which milk is the best in Sg for homemade curd. I want to try it out once more 🙂
Thanks once a again!
Try using Pura full fat milk. To make the starter, use dried red chilli along with the stalks. Try on a sunny day, preferable start in the morning.
Perfect recipe! Made beautiful desi tasting dahi in cold Dutch weather. Added 2 tbsp of starter to 1L of full fat milk and left it is the oven with the light on. Was ready in 12 hours
So glad to know Divya
Thanks for leaving a comment
I totally forgot to pick up the curd and it was left to set for about 44 hours. I’ve put it in the fridge now, but am wondering if it is still safe to eat or if I should just throw it out?
Thanks for your detailed post on making curd! 🙂
Yes it is still safe if you live in a cold country. If you find an yellow layer or spots on top it is not good to consume.