Making of Curds or as its called setting of curds, must be quite an easy one if you are used to doing it or have seen it being done often. I have always seen Amma setting this late in the night. She has certain vessels, which she doesn't use for anything else. I have tried following this principle to greater extent. At times, Amma ends up boiling a whole new pack for setting the curds. Then she will be seen cooling it under fan or over a bowl of water or at times seen blowing it. It used to be fun. In our climatic conditions, we need not really do much. It gets set automatically. Of course, provided you have the milk in the right lukewarm temperature.
To record, to find out if the temperature is correct, this is what Amma told me when I was in my teens. Wash your hands. Dip a finger into the bowl of milk. If you find the milk to be nicely warm, then its the right temperature for setting. And she also keeps the vessel near the stove. The warmth from the stove would be transferred to the vessel. What was so funny was, when we visited them in Calcutta, I found her setting the curds in a hot box. She said only then the curds was getting set. For her, it was the first time, she has ever lived away from our beautiful city. And that didn't educate her enough on temperatures. A winter is as warm as in a late summer here. How fantastic! Whatever, we love our city.
Now coming to myths surrounding setting and borrowing curds, certain things take a cake. Like the myth, that curds shouldn't be borrowed after sunset or on certain days. Well I have never really asked more than the basic question. I wanted to know why it should not be, but of course there was no valid reason. This reminds me of one funny incident. When I was in high school, we had a neighbour with whom we were very close. She used to be mostly at our place when her kids were at school. We indulged in many cooking experiments. It used to be real fun.
Once she got some guests from her native place. Two people in their 70's and couldn't really hear or see things properly. But they came visiting them and wanted to tour the city. They returned back home after touring and sat for lunch. Once it was over, they asked for buttermilk. On bringing out the curds vessel, they said they will make it themselves. Not knowing what to say, aunty gave them the vessel. That's it, after few mins, they returned an empty vessel. She was lamenting that they didn't even bother asking if they had to keep some for setting the next batch.It was ever more daunting because it happened on a day when she couldn't ask others for culturing the curds! Heights of belief!
How to set the Curds:
Bring the milk to a boil and simmer for 2 mins.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. The temperature should be luke warm.
For 1/2 liter milk, you would need app 15 ml of curds to set. This is the regular teaspoon. You can always adjust based on the temperature and the curds.
Cover with lid and let it set for about 6-7 hrs in places where its over 35 degrees C. It normally takes about 5 hrs app in our temperature.
When you find its set, put it in fridge.
Few things to spoil the curds or turn it to sour, will be adding the culture when the milk is very hot and covering it.
When you find that its too hot, allow it cool down.
Adding more culture than needed.
When you find its not set properly, heat some extra milk and add to the curds. Cover again. It should get set within hours.
How to make Curd Rice or Perugu Annam, check here.