Colonial Iterations

Have you heard this one? Says one guy to another, “My mother-in-law makes yoghurt by simply staring at the milk.” Clearly, he knows nothing about microbes ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve made yoghurt for years but our travels abroad took us to places where there was no fresh milk, except the ultra heat treated variety that that could survive unopened without a refrigerator for six to nine months. We didn’t miss it except for tea. Nairobi though, had lots of fresh cow’s milk, unlike that of the water buffalo milk largely available in India. The 20th Livestock Census found that India had more than 109 million buffaloes, above 56% of the world population [1] Apparently, Italy guard their water buffalo like a national treasure, India should take a page out of their bible.

On the East Coast of the US, the milk from the regular supermarkets ranges from pasteurised, non homogenised or homogenised [2]whole milk to milk that contains no fat, [3] none of it like that of the water buffalo. So, there are no thick creamy layers that separate out and add an amazing layer to yoghurt but I have finally managed to successfully make a fairly thick natural yoghurt, thanks to a starter from a friend. This one tastes very unlike the store brought varieties that are usually thickened with carrageenan [4] or other such ingredients. 

A tablespoon of starter culture in a clean jar

Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus are responsible for producing lactic acid that help coagulate milk proteins and thus ferment milk, making it digestible. There are many other types that will exist alongside these two main species involved [5]

Scalded milk mixed with culture (scalding may help get rid of unwelcome yeasts or bacteria prior to adding culture), and kept loosely covered until set to a jelly like consistency

I was so happy to see the curds come alive that I felt compelled to write about them. All it needs is a spoonful of culture or starter, scalded milk that you can dip a finger into without burning yourself and a clean glass bowl (whole milk makes for thicker yoghurt) I placed the culture in the container and poured the milk over and stirred it, covered lightly (I didn’t seal it), I placed it in a warm corner ( the inside of the oven with the light on or a microwave oven). At ambient temperature, it may take a few hours to reach a jelly like consistency which indicates it’s done. I left mine undisturbed for twelve hours and it will stay well alive in the refrigerator, for a week or more until it begins to sour. There are other things that can be done then, like labneh [6] (akin to Greek Yoghurt) or it can be heated to form a soft cheese. Someday, I should write about this too. The yoghurt can be used as a starter culture to begin another batch.

Colonial Iterations

There's no metaphor in milk, 
it's simply a variety of cows,
like the seven days in a week,
seven breeds of cow in America.

Smile for the small brown Jersey*
with the long eyelashes. 
Bacilli meet bovine, to curdle 
the chaos in tepid milk.

An iteration of this philosophy
yields more curds than 
there are clouds in the sky !
The sediment could be Greek

if the hyper-agile microbes
emigrate across a sieve 
and the plot would thicken 
to defy patents** in a kitchen.

Jamming impersonally
within a porcelain bowl and
all it takes is a spoonful 
to whip up a new world colony.

The Onomastics of teeming multitudes
engaged in a strange barter 
of affections is the logic of science.
That I simply stare and smile is mine ๐Ÿ™‚

I was having fun with figures of speech and some obsolete Onomatology ! For those of you that really like yoghurt, this is  the most “terriblest” song I have ever heard about Yoghurt by Ylvis and it’s still the best ! The video is too ๐Ÿ™‚








* Breeds of Cows, USA

** Whey from Greek Yogurt

Yoghurt Song by Ylvis~

The multitude journeying along the spine of a nation

Ever wonder about the microbial world? The purpose of existence inherent in replication and usefulness of life in the perpetuation of kind. Life eats life; such a travesty and such truth in the simple making of yogurt or curds out of milk.







Million held in a spoon journeying their way to milk / as a train drunk on it’s own resilience / dusts the alluvium of the North / to reach the sandy shores, South.

Millions within and outside / splayed on the montage of a moving nation / conscious of splashing milk / faithful in their passage to immortality.

Microbes nourishing / on the sugars of the land / seeking banter, rush, vicissitudes / of a shaky steel compartment / as the train ages the air, the calendar and time / by simply snaking south.

The woman who planned this coup d’etat on milk and the miraculous / in a stationed finality / reveals the splitting fortitude of bacilli / for in that container / lies milk turned curds / in the manner of faith.




A friend of mine actually accomplished this marvelous feat of making yogurt on a moving train as she journeyed South to Kerala from upstate Uttar Pradesh.