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Yogurt: The Turks' other delight

Home-made yogurt, the common denominator in the varied Turkish cuisine, is making a comeback thanks to today's health food trends.
TURKEY - APRIL 04: Falafel yoghurt plate at Ciya Sofrasi Turkish restaurant in Kadikoy district Asian side Istanbul, East Turkey (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

Every Turkish child who lived through the '70s and '80s at some point was given a small bowl and sent to the nearest neighbor to ask for “a few spoons of yogurt.” It was a time when people still made yogurt at home. This simple process would be one of the first “chemistry experiments” most Turkish kids performed, especially girls: add fresh warm milk to the starter culture borrowed from the neighbor, find a warm place for the mixture to rest and be patient. Today's healthy-eating craze is putting yogurt back on the table. In Turkey, this means a comeback for homemade yogurt, with new recipes being shared and a growing market for sophisticated yogurt machines.

Yogurt, rich in calcium and protein, is one “white food” that your doctor would likely recommend. Turks claim yogurt as their own, on the grounds that the name comes from the Turkish verb “yogurmak,” meaning kneading or curdling. The bacterial fermentation required allowed nomads in Central Asia to make use of milk over the course of a much longer period. Also of note, the fermentation process causes the lactose level of the milk to significantly decrease, making yogurt an alternative source of calcium for people with lactose intolerance.

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