• Afghan braised chicken with yoghurt and turmeric (lawang) is an example of using yoghurt instead of cream to curb saturated fat intake. (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel
Yoghurt is a bit of a wonder ingredient - it's used as a thickener in soups, a marinade, a base for sauces and dips, to leaven bread - and that's just the start.
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5 Feb 2018 - 12:47 PM  UPDATED 7 Feb 2018 - 12:42 PM

Breakfast

1. Poached eggs in yoghurt (çılbır) 

Tangy yoghurt is a natural pairing for creamy poached eggs - especially when you add spiced melted butter into the mix and serve it with crusty bread. As an added bonus, this creative breakfast is straightforward to prepare, making it easy to deal with first thing in the morning. 

2. Zucchini waffles with cherry tomato salsa and dill yoghurt 

A refreshing sauce of Greek yoghurt, dill and sea salt is the icing on the waffle of this bright breakfast. 

Dips and bread

3. Atom yoghurt (Turkish labne with dried chillies and fresh peppers) 

This mezze platter addition is yet another example of the genius of flavour pairing of rich browned butter and sharp yoghurt: strained yoghurt is topped with fresh peppers and dried chillies that have been cooked in butter until soft and caramelly. Start this recipe the day before to allow straining time for the yoghurt. 

4. Simit with haydari (Turkish sesame bread with yoghurt dip) 

Haydari is a type of Turkish yoghurt dip, and this one adds tangy and earthy goats feta along with the labne (strained yoghurt), herbs and seasonings. Because of its thickness, you can use any leftover dip as a spread for sandwiches - especially those involving smoked and cured fish. 

5. Yoghurt flatbread

These flatbreads need a little time for the dough to rise, but then can be thrown on a BBQ hotplate, frying pan or into a wood-fired to cook in a matter of minutes. 

Soups

6. Yoghurt, mint and barley soup (spas) 

Enjoy this Armenian classic either warm in cooler months or chilled in warmer months. It's light and herbal at the same time as creamy and comforting. 

7. Yoghurt and herb soup (dovga) 

This hearty and herbaceous soup from Azerbaijan, is definitely a meal in a bowl - it's filled with little hand-rolled meatballs, as well as chickpeas and rice. Like the Armenian yoghurt soup, it can be served warm or chilled. 

Vegetable dishes 

8. Parsnip, yoghurt and date salad 

If you're in a hurry, but also in need of an interesting light meal or side dish, this salad can be ready in a total of 20 minutes - or less, depending on your parsnip-grating skills. 

9. Chickpeas with spinach and yoghurt 

Plain yoghurt serves a pillowy bed for the lively chickpea topping. Expect mouthfuls of zing from the thinly sliced fresh lemon (rind included) and chilli flakes. This would make a great light and nourishing lunch or dinner.

10. Crisp eggplant with sweet-spiced yoghurt and pomegranate 

Where pain yoghurt is often served as a neutral ground to balance out more complex-flavored dishes, here this marbled yoghurt brings the flavour to the table. Tomato is cooked with mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves and chilli powder until pulpy, then wound through yoghurt to create a flavour ripple.

11. Crushed broad beans with yoghurt, chervil and charred bread 

Serve this for a brunch (a poached egg wouldn't go astray!) or aromatic appetizer or tapas offering. 

12. Spice roasted butternut pumpkin with capered yoghurt

An intriguing combination of sweet spiced pumpkin with a salty spiced yoghurt. It would be a dream with roast lamb and/ or a puy lentil salad, roast capsicum or couscous salads.

Meat dishes

13. Afghan braised chicken with yoghurt and turmeric (lawang)

This lovely curry is mild, creamy and aromatic - a real crowd-pleaser. 

14. Fish cooked in yoghurt 

Cooking fish in yoghurt makes it extra succulent, and the tang of natural yoghurt cuts through the richness of the mackerel. 

15. Tave kosi (baked lamb and rice with yoghurt) 

Kind of like an Albanian shepherd's Pie. 

16. Butter chicken with mint yoghurt and pickled onions 

A spice-infused yoghurt marinade jump-starts the flavour in this version of butter chicken. Don't skip on the condiments, they complete the golden curry ratio, bringing sour, sweet, creamy and fresh flavours. 

17. BBQ sumac prawn cocktails with avocado & sumac yoghurt sauce

If you're a prawn cocktail lover - or just looking for a new way to serve prawns - this take on a prawn cocktail has a unique line-up of ingredients: the prawns are marinated in a pomegranate molasses-based blend before being grilled, and instead of the standard prawn cocktail concoction of tomato sauce, mayonnaise, cream, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco, they're served with a sauce involving yoghurt, avocado, sumac and gherkins. 

18. Lamb manti (kuzu manti)

Manti are like Turkish ravioli, and are usually filled with a beef and traditionally served with yoghurt sauce. 

Dessert

19. Yoghurt cake with strawberries

Friends popping over for a cuppa and you need a go-to cake? You can rely on this one. Top it with whatever fresh fruit you have on hand, and an extra dollop of creamy plain yoghurt. 

20. Yoghurt-honey creams with sweet tomato compote

Technically, tomatoes are a fruit so it shouldn't be that surprising to use them in a dessert. They're cooked in a compote like any other fruit - with sugar, water, a cinnamon stick and lemon peel - and are a perfect match in both flavour and texture with the honey-scented yoghurt.

Yo yo yoghurt
Yoghurt cake with strawberries

This cake is a cinch to throw together and is my go-to cake if I need something to have with a cuppa. 

Savoury yoghurt kebabs and basil chutney

These yoghurt kebabs are absolutely delicious and are easy to make with simple everyday ingredients (gram flour is a must in all vegetarian households!). They are soft and creamy on the inside but have a lovely crisp exterior. They are generally made with yoghurt that has been drained overnight so that it becomes thick and almost cheesy and is then bound with a little paneer (Indian white cheese). They are really versatile and can be eaten as they are, dipped in a little basil chutney or served with a lightly dressed salad.

Purslane yoghurt dip

This is essentially a variation on tzatziki, and in all earnestness we declare it a superior one. If you plan on kissing someone who hasn’t shared this with you, you may want to add half a cup of very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley to offset the effects of the garlic (add a splosh of extra yoghurt and olive oil in this case). Otherwise, experiment with adding a tablespoon of very finely chopped mint, dill or wild fennel.

Marinated chicken kebabs with preserved lemon and harissa yoghurt dressing (djej mechoi)

“In the Medina of Fez, I was mesmerised by the colourful stands selling spice mixes, bowls of fiery harissa and great piles of shiny olives and golden preserved lemons. It takes about a month to ‘pickle’ the local whole lemons in brine, but when they’re ready they have a unique flavour and salty tang that goes brilliantly with chicken cooked on coals. You can preserve lemons at home if you like a bit of pickling, but you can also find them in most good delis.” Ainsley Harriott, Ainsley Harriott’s Street Food

Smoked yoghurt

A recipe made for me by the cheeky chaps from The Melbourne Pantry. It came about after (my now partner) Sharlee asked if I knew someone who could smoke butter for a top British chef who was appearing at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. It made me think, how would smoking yoghurt be, and... well, it rocks. Add the recipe to carrots, their tops, honey and smoked yoghurt.