Is it possible to braise meat in a yoghurt based liquid?
Really loving my new dutch oven, and my last experiment involved beef short ribs with some red wine and beef stock as a braising liquid.
I'd like to try something different tomorrow. My plan is to get some lamb shanks, and braise them using ginger, cilantro, mint, and some hot pepper.
I don't want to use any wine in the braising liquid, and I was thinking of just using some yoghurt (mixed in with water), and just blending in the spices. Is that a terrible idea? I'm planning on braising for about four hours or so.
I also thought coconut milk might work too, but not sure.
you can braise in coconut milk -- carefully, as the higher sugar content is more likely to burn.
I wouldn't braise in yogurt - I'd be concerned it would just curdle, leaving you with a nasty-looking mess (it would taste okay, but would look like oily cottage cheese)
I'd either marinate in the yogurt and spices and then roast, à la tandoori, or do the braise and then stir the yogurt in at the end.
I've made lamb dopiaza using lamb shoulder and full fat yoghurt and water as the liquid (added some melted butter as well) I cooked it in an enamel pot with the lid on for about 2 hours and off for about an hour. It will curdle at the start and look awful but don't panic it will coalesce into a sauce eventually , though it won't be smooth and glossy by any means. But the meat was really tender.
Braising meat in yoghurt based liquid is pretty common in some regional South Asian cooking. Here is what you need to do to ensure that the yoghurt doesn't split: Sometimes the yoghurt is added in after other ingredients have been cooked, sometimes the yoghurt is part of a meat marinade and is added to hot oil as you put the meat-marinade into the pot. Either way, you need to keep stirring and stirring until oil floats to the top of the yoghurt and it has dried out a little bit. Then you can add more liquid (water, stock) or if your meat has a lot of liquid in it already, just cover your pot, lower the flame, and allow to braise.
If you add the yoghurt in after other ingredients have been cooked a bit (like say you have sauteed some ginger and onions), you may wish to briefly turn off the flame as you stir in the yoghurt to avoid curdling. Either way, keep stirring and stirring till you see that oil float up and it looks dryer and well amalgamated with your previously cooked ingredients. You can have the meat in already at this point because you browned it in the sautee process, or you can add in the meat now (possibly previously browned alone) and then cook it for a while till it changes color, then add in your liquid, lower the flame, and cook till meat is done/tender.
I agree with Paprikaboy's suggestion of using full fat yoghurt.
As mentioned by other posters, several curries use yogourt. I have made several where the yogourt is used after the other ingredients have been cooked (such as onions and tomatoes) and had good texture. I also have seen a recipe where the meat is marinated in a yogourt based marinade, and then everything goes in the pot.
In one of my cookbooks it is suggested to first whisk the yogourt before adding to the dutch oven, I often use that method. I have also seen recipes where chickpea flour is whisked in the yogourt before stirring it in.
Lamb shanks braised in yogurt is a common Levantine dish called laban ummo. The trick to making a creamy sauce is to stabilize the yogurt with cornstarch and an egg white. Add the mixture to your lamb and braising liquid during the last 10-20 minutes of cooking, stirring constantly in one direction over low to medium heat. Remember also to use yogurt that has come to room temperature. Cold yogurt is still prone to splitting over heat.