This recipe is part of a series of posts generated from the Sandor Katz Fermentation Residency.
Since I love all things fermented dairy, I am always eager and excited to make a new yogurt ferment. In this heat, especially, a fizzy and refreshing yogurt drink really hits the spot! I also love Middle Eastern food (it my very favorite cuisine, as befits a native Detroiter), a cuisine in which yogurt almost invariably plays a role. This particular yogurt drink is especially fun for the fermentation obsessed because it combines a dairy and a grain ferment. I had never made this ferment before (and had only been marginally aware of it) before attending Sandor Katz’ fermentation retreat. My notes were sketchy and there was so much going on that I honestly can’t tell if we finished making it or just started the grain ferment part of the process. I have a single, not-so-great photo of a bottle of dough sitting on the counter.
Katz says that his method is very traditional and that makes sense. It also differs greatly from many other doogh (sometimes written dugh) recipes I’ve seen, most of which go like this: Stir carbonated water into yogurt. Add dried mint. Enjoy chilled. Even the FAO instructions for making doogh mention the potential to use yeast to ferment the yogurt, but they don’t mention this bulgur method.
Shocker Alert: I like Sandor’s version best. Although yogurt is a ferment, adding carbonated water to yogurt isn’t fermenting (obvi). Katz’ method is active fermenting, which, I think we can all agree, makes it more fun!
Here’s another thing: I think mint and dairy were meant to be together, and although most recipes I’ve seen call for dried mint, I ran out after a few tests of this recipe, but I had some fresh, chocolate mint growing and may I just say, yum. This is the mint chocolate chip ice cream of drinking yogurts. I can’t get enough of it.
For yogurt, you can use whatever you’d like, but if you choose a greek or other strained yogurt, go closer to half bulgur liquid/half yogurt than the 1/3 to 2/3rds this recipe calls for.
Doogh Drinking Yogurt Recipe
Yield approximately 1 L
A word on bulgur: bulgur is mostly (only?) sold parboiled in the US as far as I can find, but for some reason, it has still reliably fermented for me in every test of this recipe. If you can’t tolerate gluten, you could try a different grain, but I haven’t yet. There’s absolutely no reason it wouldn’t work, but you may want to go more in a rejuvelac direction, which is tried and true.
- 1 quart jar (optional)
- Small funnel (optional)
- 1 liter bottle capable of trapping carbonation, preferably plastic* (I like recycled seltzer bottles)
- Scant 1/2 cup (70 g) cracked bulgur
- 3 1/2 cups (825 ml) filtered water
- 2 3/4 cups yogurt (see post if using Greek or other thick, strained yogurt)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dried mint or three 3-inch sprigs fresh mint (I prefer chocolate mint, but any peppermint will work well)
- Place bulgar in a quart jar and add filtered water. Close lid tightly and allow to sit at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. I like to keep the lid tight, because this doesn’t get fizzy enough to blow the lid, but when the lid is puffed, I know it’s ready.
- Once the lid is puffed up, or you see a layer of carbonation at the top, your starter is ready. Strain the bulgur and reserve the liquid. You should have about 2 cups of liquid. If you want to make a little bit more doogh or you’re using Greek yogurt, press lightly on the bulgur with a wooden spoon or spatula to release the maximum amount of liquid. Compost the remaining bulgur.
- Using a funnel, pour the yogurt into your 1 liter, sealing bottle and add mint and bulgur liquid, until bottle is mostly full. Carbonation is helped by a little breathing room, so if you like it fizzy, leave at least two inches of headspace. If not, one will do.
- Place the bottle in a room temperature spot away from direct sunlight and allow it to ferment until the plastic has become rigid, about 24 hours. Depending on the temperature in your home, this could take only 12 hours, or it could take a couple days. My house is about 77 F (25 C) and 24 hours seems to be about right. Keep tabs on the bottle the first time you make it to get an idea of how long yours takes to carbonate.
- Once it’s fully carbonated (it should have no give when you squeeze the bottle) pop it in the fridge for a couple hours to fully chill before serving. The thickness of the yogurt means that it won’t be bubbly the way soda is, but you will have some nice effervescence on your tongue.
*If bottling in glass, always be extremely vigilant. Any trapped carbonation could explode, but in glass, this poses a genuine risk to the safety of anyone in your home. Even in plastic, I recommend keeping very close tabs on trapped carbonation to avoid potential big messes. Doogh isn’t like soda; it’s not insanely carbonated. Still, there’s always a risk and it’s something to remain aware of.