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THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING A CULTURE GOING

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
April 2019
THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING A CULTURE GOING

For many Indian-American families, preserving their Indian culture is important, but so is preserving another culture: yogurt.

In a recent New York Times article, Priya Krishna writes about the importance of home-made yogurt to her family and others, and the great lengths to which some have gone to bring starter yogurt from India and keep it going for decades.

“My own family’s yogurt culture—which my father got from a sister-in-law, Sonia, who couldn’t recall where she procured it—has survived a move from one corner of Dallas to another, the two years my parents lived in the Philippines, and the many times my sister and I accidentally polished off a batch of yogurt without leaving any to make the next,” Krishna writes. “Luckily, my father, Shailendra Krishna, keeps two containers of emergency culture in the freezer—and has successfully used them a few times.”

This starter yogurt culture is like an heirloom, Krishna writes, and can be passed down generations. It’s different from the culture found in store-bought yogurt, which is less acidic.

Vivek Surti, 33, managing partner of Tailor, an Indian-inspired restaurant in Nashville, swears by his mother’s yogurt culture.

“It is that full mouth feel,” he told Krishna. “It is still sour, but it has this milky quality that coats all of your mouth. When you eat something spicy and you need relief, this is the yogurt that delivers that.”


Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]



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