The advent of summer is marked by many things, but, in the Indian culinary context, it is often the sneaky addition of that bowl of yogurt to every meal. With the mercury rising to excruciating levels, you could scarcely find a simpler way of cooling down than by slurping some of that cold, creamy goodness. And when this beloved dairy product plays a guest appearance in your favourite dishes, it results in some doubly delicious treats.
The Chaai, for instance, perks up their incredibly simple salad of fresh cucumber, bright red tomatoes and lettuce with some pepper yogurt dressing that adds a certain zing to the otherwise plain flavour profile. Euriska’s version fully exploits the ‘refreshing’ aspect of yogurt by putting dollops of it on top of deep crimson slices of beetroot (offsetting their pungency) in a gorgeous salad, with walnut bits packing in some additional crunch.
Dario’s offers a similarly wholesome salad, but this one (in addition to the beetroot) tosses some soft and starchy steamed potatoes, carrots, spring onion, sprouted moong (for that lovely touch of protein) and mint (for its invigorating aroma, presumably) into the mix. All these texturally disparate elements come together beautifully thanks to their collective bedrock: the subtly flavoured, mellow herb yogurt dressing. And if that has not swept you off your feet already, the establishment also whips up an elegant baked yogurt tart with the world’s most buttery crust and a rich, sweet yogurt filling that has just the slightest hint of sourness.
The leafy German Bakery Wunderbar pulls off a coup that combines the energising properties of some full-cream yogurt (served in a rustic earthen pot) and a handful of diced, assorted fresh fruits such as watermelon, kiwi, apple and sweet lime – pretty much summer served on a platter! French Creperie works on the same concept but with a dash of style – think neat verrines (for the uninitiated, verrines refer to contrasting components layered in a small container) laden with seasonal fruits dunked in smooth yogurt.
Likewise, as part of their weekend hangover breakfast menu, Krusty's has recently started offering a lovely mango and strawberry yogurt parfait with home-made granola and fresh fruits – grab a spoonful of this and you already feel waves of detoxification. Or then you can go for the yogurt parfait jars at Double Roti, which rustles up the classic version of granola and dried nuts layered with yogurt and strands of golden-brown honey, or a healthy one made from fruits and crispy sunflower seeds.
And if you prefer your yogurt chilled but want to sidestep the hackneyed FroYo option, try the immensely soothing yogurt sorbet at South Indies, which is redolent with the aroma of cardamom and is just the right kind of sweet and sour tonic you need in this balmy weather.
The tartness of yogurt makes it a very good base for an invigorating smoothie – a fact a number of new restaurants have cashed in on. Murphies, for instance, does a berry yogurt smoothie with seeds that create an interesting texture play as you take a sip. Otherwise, you could opt for the more season-friendly mango yogurt smoothie at The K Factory – here, yogurt acts as a great leveler when paired with the richness of the king of fruits. And if you are looking for a nutrition-packed cooler, Cafe Abaca does a tasty avocado yogurt smoothie – it cannot get any healthier than this! It is an acquired taste though, and for those who are yet to get there, worry not, for they also do the more indulgence-friendly strawberry and blueberry versions.
Speaking of healthy diets, organic-food-focused Tien replaces the mayonnaise in their roast chicken sandwich with yogurt’s desi cousin, hung curd. The result is nothing short of scrumptious. On the same lines, Krusty's does a smoked chicken sub with harissa and black pepper yogurt, as well as a potato rösti one with sun-dried tomatoes and Greek yogurt that cuts right through the greasiness of the fried taters. Finally, Mahlzeit’s ‘happy burger’ features two slices of brown pao packing with a nourishing bounty that includes a chicken or paneer patty, cheese, pickles, onion, lettuce, tomato and – of course the glue that binds them all – a tangy yogurt sauce.