A Brief Introduction
Regarded as the world’s first health food, today yogurt continues to be recognised as one of the best. Yoghurt is not just a food accompaniment, a dessert or merely a diet food, but researchers are finding evidence that yogurt actually add years to one’s life as is found in some countries where yogurt and other fermented dairy products (like kefir) are a dietary staple.Market analysts says that the sector has already grown by a whopping 432 per cent since 2001, and that 60 per cent of consumers cite health as the chief reason behind buying into the product.

What is Yoghurt?
Yogurt is fermented milk product prepared by blending bacterial cultures into the milk. Fermentation leads to the permutation of the milk’s sugar, lactose, into lactic acid. This lactic acid then acts upon the milk’s protein to give yoghurt its custard like texture and its characteristic tang; these are reflected in its original Turkish name ‘Yoghumak’, which means ‘to thicken’. Soy yogurt, a dairy yoghurt alternative, is made from soy milk.

Etymological Background and Spelling

The word ‘yoghurt’ has been derived from the Turkish yoğurt, which was the noun for the word yoğun, an adjective denoting ‘dense’ and ‘thick’ and the verb was yoğurmak signifying ‘to knead’. It is very much possible that originally, the verb may have meant ‘to make dense’, which is how yoghurt is made.

There are couple of ways to spell the word, one being ‘yoghurt’ and the other is ‘yogurt’; with ‘yoghurt’ being more in usage. We also hear of ‘yoghourt’ and ‘yogourt’ in certain other parts of the world.

Historical Background
Origin of fermented and cultured milks apparently predates recorded history. However, there is evidence, according to which a type of yogurt emanated from the food culture of the nomadic tribes of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is thought that yogurt was first found as early as 2000 BC in Mid Eastern civilizations as a way to preserve milk. The first cultured milk product was made spontaneously from the environment or the food itself. Folklore tells of a story of a traveling nomad in the Turkish desert. Legend has it that he kept some milk in a goatskin bag hung across his camel. After traveling in the hot sun with the constant agitation of his bag during his travels, the milk was transformed into a tangy custard. The warmth, bacteria in the bag and agitation of his movements were ideal for making the first yogurt.

Based on the historical evidence available, it is known to us that domestication of cattle started around 5000 BC. It may not be very

wrong to conclude that the milk from these animals was stored in gourds, and in the warm climate it naturally formed a curd. This curd was an early form of yogurt. Eventually, a process for purposely producing yogurt was developed.India’s Ayurvedic history dates to 6000 BC, expounding the virtues of regular dairy product consumption and its contribution to a long, healthy life. The use of yoghurt by mediaeval Turks is recorded in the books Diwan Lughat al-Turk by Mahmud Kashgari and Kutadgu Bilig by Yusuf Has Hajib written in the eleventh century. In both texts the word “yoghurt” is mentioned in different sections and its use by nomadic Turks is described. Then there is some folklore and historical evidence that associates the origin of yoghurt in the medival times with the Great Khan Genghis Khan in the 13th century. The first account of a European encounter with yoghurt occurs in French clinical history: Francis I suffered from a severe diarrhea which no French doctor could cure. His ally Suleiman the Magnificent sent a doctor, who allegedly cured the patient with yoghurt.

Until the 1900s, yoghurt was a staple in diets of the South Asian, Central Asian, Western Asian, South Eastern European and Central European regions.

Nutritional Value and Health Benefits
Yogurt is a very good source of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin-vitamin B2 and iodine. Recent analysis of the product have also proved it to be a good source of vitamin B12, pantothenic acid-vitamin B5, zinc, potassium, protein and molybdenum. Eating of yoghurt has the following health benifits:-

  • Longer Life - The highest quality yogurt in your grocery store contains live bacteria that provides a host of health benefits. Yogurt that contains live bacterial cultures may help you to live longer, and may fortify your immune system. Research studies have shown that increased yogurt consumption, particularly in the elderly, may enhance the immune response, which would in turn increase resistance to immune-related diseases.
  • Boosts Immune Response - Lactobacillus casei, a strain of friendly bacteria found in cultured foods like yogurt and kefir, significantly improved the immune response and ability to fight off pneumonia in an animal study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
  • Lowers LDL, Raises HDL Cholesterol - Daily consumption of 3 ounces (100 g) of probiotic yogurt (yogurt containing health-promoting bacteria) significantly improve the cholesterol profile, lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • Specifically, Significantly Increases Fat Loss - If one is trying to lose weight, especially around the midsection, eating more calcium-rich foods, especially low fat dairy foods such as cow’s milk, yogurt and kefir, may really help.
  • Help Prevent and Heal Arthritis - Lactobacillus, a probiotic (friendly) bacteria found in yogurt offers “remarkable preventive and curative” effects on arthritis.
  • Protection against Ulcers - Helicobater pylori the bacterium responsible for most ulcers, can be shut down by yogurt.
  • Reduce Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer - Although we’ve focused on the benefits of low-fat yogurt, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that enjoying full-fat yogurt and other full-fat dairy foods, such as whole milk, kefir, cheese, cream, sour cream and butter, may significantly reduce risk for colorectal cancer. Although high in saturated fat, these dairy foods contain a number of potentially cancer-preventive factors, including a protective fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has also been shown to be cardioprotective.
  • For Fresh Breath and a Healthy Mouth - Consuming just 3.2 ounces (90 grams) of yogurt twice a day not only lowers levels of hydrogen sulfide and other volatile sulfide compounds responsible for bad breath, but may also eliminate tongue-coating bacteria and reduce dental plaque formation, cavities, and risk for gingivitis.
Few Ways To Enjoy Yogurt
Delicious with stewed fruits and muesli. An integral ingredient in Middle Eastern recipes. In dips, sauces, marinades, desserts or just served ‘au naturel’ – yogurt’s unique tangy creaminess is distinctive and memorable. A perfect snack straight from the tub. A cooling accompaniment to curries and chilli dishes.

  • Top your daily cup of yogurt with a quarter-cup of granola, a handful of nuts, and some frozen berries or dried fruit for a quick, delicious and sustaining breakfast.
  • Creamy yogurt, chives, and freshly ground sea salt and pepper make a great topping for baked potatoes, yams or other cooked vegetables.
  • For a creamy salad dressing or vegetable dip, just mix a cup of yogurt with a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil and your favorite herbs and spices.

Varieties of Yoghurt 

  • Strained yoghurts, which include Greek Yoghurt (yiaourti), Dahi and Bulgarian Yoghurt are types of yoghurt which are strained through a cloth or paper filter, traditionally made of muslin, to remove the whey, giving a much thicker consistency, and a distinctive, slightly tangy taste. Some types are boiled in open vats first, so that the liquid content is reduced. The popular East Indian dessert, Mishti Dahi, is a variation of traditional Dahi, offers a thicker, more custard-like consistency, and is usually sweeter than western yoghurts.
  • Dadiah, or Dadih, is a traditional West Sumatran yoghurt made from water buffalo milk. It is fermented in bamboo tubes.
  • Labneh yoghurt of Lebanon is a thickened yoghurt used for sandwiches. Olive oil, cucumber slices, olives, and various green herbs may be added. It can be thickened further and rolled into balls, preserved in olive oil, and fermented for a few more weeks. It is sometimes used with onions, meat, and nuts as a stuffing for a variety of Lebanese pies or Kebbeh balls.
  • Cacık is a popular cold soup made from yoghurt, popular during summertime in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Turkey. It is made with Ayran, cucumbers, dill, salt, olive oil, and optionally garlic and ground walnuts in Bulgaria, and generally without walnuts in Turkey.
  • Rahmjoghurt, a creamy yoghurt with much higher milkfat content (10%) than most yoghurts offered in English-speaking countries (Rahm is German for cream), is available in Germany and other countries.
  • Matsoni, has a unique, viscous, honey-like texture. It is milder in taste than other varieties of yoghurts.Also known as Caspian Sea Yoghurt. It usually is made at home because it requires neither special equipment nor unobtainable culture. It can be made at room temperature (20–30°C) in 10 to 15 hours.
  • Jameed is yoghurt which is salted and dried to preserve it. It is popular in Jordan.


  • Ayran is a yoghurt-based, salty drink popular in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iranian Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It is made by mixing yoghurt with water and adding salt. The same drink is known as “Dough” in Iran, “Tan” in Armenia, “Laban Ayran” in Syria and Lebanon, “Shenina” in Jordan, “Moru” in South India, and “Laban Arbil” in Iraq. A similar drink, doogh, is popular in the Middle East between Lebanon and Afghanistan; it differs from ayran by the addition of herbs, usually mint, and is carbonated, usually with seltzer water.
  • Lassi is a yoghurt-based beverage originally from the Indian subcontinent that is usually slightly salty or sweet. Lassi is a staple of Punjab, in some parts of the subcontinent, the sweet version may be commercially flavored with rosewater, mango or other fruit juice to create a totally different drink. Salty lassi is usually flavored with ground, roasted cumin and red chillies, this salty variation may also use buttermilk, and is interchangeably called Mattha (North India), Tak(Maharashtra), or Chaas (Gujarat). lassi is also very widely drunk in Pakistan.
  • Kefir is a fermented milk drink originating in the Caucasus. A related Central Asian Turco-Mongolian drink made from mare’s milk is called kumis, or airag in Mongolia. Some American dairies have offered a drink called “kefir” for many years with fruit flavours but without carbonation or alcohol.
  • Sweetened Yoghurt Drinks are the usual form in the US and UK containing fruit and added sweeteners. These are typical called “drinking / drinkable yoghurt”. Also available are “yoghurt smoothies” which contain a higher proportion of fruit and are more like Smoothies.