Sujal Torgal Patil
Curd has been a part of the Indian cuisine since historic times. With its immense health benefits and flavourful tales it has integrated with our meals and many of us savour a humble preparation like curd-rice more than any pompous recipe! Ayurveda regards curd to be highly loaded with many health benefits and has cautioned the intake of curd for regular consumption, etc. Let’s find out more about the same.
‘Dadhi’ is the Sanskrit word for curd which is typically translated to curd in English and ‘dhai’ or ‘dahi’ in local languages. Curd is a probiotic, lacto fermented dairy product obtained by curdling milk with a portion of curd itself. In the West curd refers to the product obtained by curdling milk with an acidic agent such as lemon juice which is known as yogurt. Yogurt and Curd are not the same thing, although they look and taste similar.
Making curd: Dahi or curd is made at home by transferring a spoonful of the previous batch of curd to milk. It is then left to curdle at room temperature. At about pH 4.6, the coagulation of casein makes the curd, and the time taken depends on the level of heat.
Curd has a sweet and sour taste, sour after-taste, is demulcent, heavy for digestion, is hot by nature contrary to the belief of being cold, boosts sperm count, is vitalising and cures catarrh, chronic fever and dysentery, loss of appetite, urinary problems and general debility. The thick creamy layer of properly coagulated curd is called sara. This is a heavy to digest aphrodisiac that alleviates vata and decreases digestive power, and increases kapha and shukra. The watery part that settles over curd is called mastu.
Types of curd based on acidity
Sweet curd: Greatly increases mucus, kapha dosha and fat
Acidic or sour: Causes acidity and deranges pitta
Extremely acidic or sour: Vitiates the blood, causing various blood and skin disorders
Types of curd based on the source of milk
Cow curd: Is demulcent, sweet and acrid, appetising and strengthening, and calms vata dosha. It is a good condiment and is often the best choice for vata (unless one is allergic to cow dairy).
Goat curd: This is great for pitta and kapha as it is lighter for digestion and calms deranged pitta and kapha. It is also curative for vata provocation and wasting diseases. It kindles appetite and is helpful in haemorrhoids, breathlessness and cough.
Buffalo curd: It is high in fat content and is therefore heavier for digestion. It is very unctuous, increases kapha dosha and reduces vata and pitta. It is to be consumed by individuals with good digestive capacity.
Strained curd: Is thickened by straining through a cloth. This process removes much of the lactose and whey resulting in a product that contains less sugar and twice as much protein per ounce as unstrained curd.
Non-fat curd: The non-fat curd made from low or non-fat milk is dry, astringent, constipating in nature and increases vata. On the plus side it makes food tasty while being lighter than other types of curds.
The store-bought curd is cold, heavy and difficult to digest and can clog finer channels of the physiology. Also, once the curd has been refrigerated, the quantity of friendly bacteria decreases and thus health-producing benefits are less. From ayurvedic perspective it may contribute to weight gain due to the cold and heavy qualities it has.
Curd should not be had continuously for a long time. Over intake may lead to metabolic disorders like diabetes, skin disorders, hyperacidity, swelling and inflammatory pain and congestive breathing disorders. Curd should not be eaten at nights as it potentially leads to mucus development. Our digestive capacity is weaker at nights as compared to the day.
It should not be boiled or heated either.
It is ideal to mix it with honey or sugar or amla powder or any indicated medication directed by your doctor before consuming, rather than consuming directly as it is. Its properties get enhanced when mixed with cooked green gram or ghee or gooseberries. This reduces the sourness and thereby its side effects if any are mitigated.
Curd should be used only when it is well formed or completely coagulated. Consumption of incompletely coagulated curd may flare up herpes outbreaks, psoriasis, bleeding in haemorrhoids, gastric imbalances or may cause giddiness.
It is also ideal to avoid curd in case of any inflammation or fever as it may worsen the condition. Other contraindications are gastric disorders, hematuria, increase in body heat, skin disorders, diabetes, inflammatory disorders, swelling, wounds, etc.
Curd is usually contraindicated in summer, autumn and spring seasons and its intake in winters and rainy seasons is beneficial, although its effects are modified by other conditions like the nature of the patient and disease condition, etc.
Certain food items should never be consumed with curd as they are incompatible foods so difficult to digest together and may produce allergic reactions. These include milk, radish, melon, jamun, sour fruits, etc. It shouldn’t be heated either.
(Writer is CMO at Traya Natural Health Centre and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)