Pros: wonderful recipes from across the globe
Cons: this book is more about using yogurt in recipes than making it
Originally released in 1978, "The Book of Yogurt: An International Collection of Recipes" by Sonia Uvezian was just recently re-released to entice a whole new generation to look beyond the breakfast table and see yogurt as a vital ingredient that can be used a whole range of dishes and in many different ways.
In the 35 years since it was first released, Americans have connected with cuisines from around the globe and have incorporated many of their foods into our every day lives, yet we still don't often see yogurt as anything but a sweet, fruity dish best served at breakfast or frozen and served as dessert. Sure, we all know that yogurt is a healthier alternative to sour cream and we all know a Gyro wouldn't be the same without Tzatziki sauce, but beyond that much hasn't changed since 1978. There was that brief period, in the early 80's when making your own yogurt was a trendy thing to do and many families invested in cheap yogurt makers, but it wasn't long before those things got shoved to the back of some cabinet or languished on tables at Rummage Sales.
Things have changed in the last couple of years though. People are tired of the watered down versions of ethnic cuisines that many restaurants have been pumping out for years and there is a movement away from purchasing items that can easily be made at home. Add to that our new found interest in the health benefits of fermented foods and the time was ripe to re-release "The Book of Yogurt" and help introduce a whole new generation to the myriad uses of this fermented dairy product.
The book begins with a brief history lesson about yogurt and the variety of different styles that can be found throughout the world. Sonia then spends a number of pages going into how to make yogurt at home. This was my favorite part of the book and I felt that Sonia did a great job of walking the reader through making yogurt, but I was hoping that this section would have expanded on the basic recipe and delve deeper into making different styles and flushing out the whole concept of making homemade yogurt. Unfortunately, she then moves rather quickly into the main part of the book, which is recipes that use yogurt in them.
I was impressed with the range of recipes that Sonia included in her book. Her recipes traverse the globe and encompass everything from salads to main dishes to desserts and baked goods. I was glad to see that, for the most part, she stayed away from foods and dishes that Americans were already used to and tried to delve a little deeper into a cuisine to highlight recipes that aren't quite so well known; recipes such as Spitted Chicken with Sour Plum Sauce, Curried Bananas with Yogurt Sauce or Yugoslavian Baked Fish. I did question the authenticity of a few recipes though and the use of yogurt in them. My wife, whose father came over from Hungary, would never consider substituting yogurt for sour cream in her Chicken Paprikash. But Ms. Uvezian doesn't claim that her recipes are all authentic so it really is a minor quibble.
Overall, I found the book enjoyable and informative. While I wish there was more time spent on recipes for making yogurt, I was impressed with the recipes we tried that included yogurt as an ingredient. This book has also inspired me to experiment further with yogurt, and seeing as my wife loves yogurt and eats lots of it, I'm contemplating buying her a yogurt maker for Christmas and presenting this book to her along with the machine.