Make your own VEGAN Cashew Yogurt w/o probiotic pills – fermented with a weird ingredient you’d never think to use – green chilli crowns!
The more you learn about food, the more you realize how increasingly magical it is.
Ever since I transitioned to a vegan diet, I’ve had cause to look beyond my known horizon to find plant-based substitutes for the meat and dairy I was taking out of my meals. First, it was Aquafaba that blew me away – chickpea cooking water that replaced egg in so many recipes, including meringues! Incroyable! For someone who was already obsessed with all things chickpeas, it brought a whole new meaning to the word ‘obsessed’.
For months, all I could think of was aquafaba. Which meant I was cooking insane quantities of chickpeas and consuming them all voraciously in the name of experimentation and learning.
My latest study, and now, a second obsession is this Vegan Cashew Yogurt.
But before I get into details about the thing that makes this particular recipe awesome, let me talk about my history with yogurt. I hated the stuff. With every fiber of my being, despised it for most of my life. I grew up in Southern India, where every single meal ended in some form of yogurt or another, and to hate the very thing that runs in the blood of Indians, made me an unnatural aberration.
When I was 3, my mother tried to force me to eat rice with yogurt by seating me on top of a high wall – my honest-to-goodness mother who can’t tell a lie to save herself wasn’t above blackmail when it came to feeding us – and refusing to let me come down until I ate the rice tainted with the yogurt I hated so much. And what did I do? Cling onto the wall and refuse to come down, because even when I was as little as 3, I knew that my hatred for yogurt trumped my fear of heights and would rather fall down to a painful death than taste a morsel of the smelly sticky thing.
Suffice it to say, that my mother eventually gave up and begrudgingly allowed my aversion to dairy to continue for a decade and a half after that. The only form of dairy acceptable to me was milk in my very strong coffee and baked goods with butter in them. Basically where the idea of dairy was masked by other delicious things.
It wasn’t until I was late into my teens did I change the way I felt towards yogurt – but it was limited to enjoying yogurt only in the form of raita, particularly with onions. The onions helped mask the aroma and taste for me, and it worked. And before I knew it, it grew on me.
And since cutting dairy from my diet, I have kinda missed raita. Until now.
While looking up recipes for vegan yogurt, almost all the recipes used probiotic pills to ferment plant-based milks, which seems easy enough, but the pills are expensive ($1.3 for a tablet and you need two to make 1 1/2 c of yogurt) and eventually, the costs will add up. So I put it off for later and forgot about it for a while. Until a couple of months ago, I renewed my search and discovered this incredibly fascinating method of making plant-based yogurt using a rather curious ingredient…
Green chilli crowns! The thing that you snip off from the chilli and discard before cooking it. That’s the magical ingredient that ferments the cashew cream and turns it into the most creamiest, most delicious yogurt ever!
Be warned, the first batch of your Vegan Cashew Yogurt will bear faint traces of the chilli flavor – take a few spoons of it as a starter for your next batch of yogurt, and use the rest in savory dishes – divine stirred into curries, or even made as raita. And worry not, subsequent batches of yogurt have no traces of the green chilli flavor. That little chilli quirk lives and dies with the initial starter batch.
And although I’ve seen this method be used with all sorts of plant based milks, to mimic that intense creaminess of real yogurt (and lack any distinct nut flavor – coconut milk, I’m looking at you!), I find cashews to be the best nut for this particular task.
Food – the more you know, the more fascinating it gets. Chilli crowns! Who’d have thunk?
What is the most fascinating + unlikely use of an ingredient you’ve come across in your experience? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to learn more!
When you make this incredible Vegan Cashew Yogurt (which I really think you SHOULD!), be sure to SHARE YOUR PHOTOS with me through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’d love to see what you cook from here!