Yogurt and Whey by Homa Dashtaki, a review

I’m still working my way through some of the best cookbooks of  2023 (at least according to Bon Appetit).

Most of my reviews came from a massive library check-out.  My bad that I requested all the books at once.  I literally was walking out of the library balancing eight massive cookbooks.  (When did they do away with the two book limit?)

So, now I’m going through my draft posts and trying to get everything published before the end of 2023.  Yogurt & Whey may have been the most interesting read of all the books I’ve reviewed (and it’s been languishing in the draft box for quite some time.)  Today’s the day!

About the Book:

A collection of recipes reflecting a life affected by immigration, community, adaptation, and experimentation―and sublime, old-world, creamy yogurt.

As founder of much-loved The White Moustache Yogurt company, Homa Dashtaki employs the same traditionally Iranian methods of making yogurt that her family has for generations in her kitchen today. Her passion culminates in inspiring the use of a new ingredient: whey, the liquid gold extracted from straining homemade yogurt. Across 100 recipes ranging from ancient see-rogh to rum cocktails, ghormeh sabzi to lemon meringue pie, Dashtaki weaves in and out of nostalgic and innovative dishes. The result of years of obsessively making yogurt results in a love for every drop of whey that she passes onto home cooks in these recipes. Embrace whey’s bright tang in a summer gazpacho or a pitcher of pineapple margaritas. Enjoy the crispy edges it lends to creamy pancakes.

Enlivened by hand-drawn illustrations and dreamy photographs, Yogurt & Whey is a beautiful homage to Iranian yogurt traditions―past, present, and future.

About the author:

Homa Dashtaki, founder of The White Moustache, employs the same traditional Iranian methods of making yogurt that her family has for generations. Her passion culminates in inspiring the use of a new ingredient: whey, the liquid gold extracted from straining homemade yogurt.

What I thought…

Loved the story—lawyer turned yogurt maker with her white-mustachioed father.   The images she paints of her summers in Iran, picking pomegranates and sleeping on the roof, are magical.   Her recipes follow that lyrical imagery.    While one waits during the multi-day yogurt process, “Play music you listen to when you feel like you are totally in love—with your family, a wonderful moment, a partner, a time in your life”(47).

The resourcefulness of using up (and trying to market) the whey (a byproduct of the yogurt industry, no matter how small), and her recipe for Torshi Makhloot (Mixed Iranian Pickles) using vegetable scraps were inspiring.   There may be a few too many whey recipes though:  pickling and fermented recipes using the raw whey, multiple soups using whey, whey muffins and other quick breads, sorbet with whey.  Way too much whey.  But if you’re producing yogurt, you need recipes for the by product.

The photos in the book remind me of the ones you find in cookbooks of the 1970s.  They’re striking but there’s just something about the staging and the lighting.  This is not a condemnation.  They are glossy and vibrant.  The illustrations continue the magical feel mentioned above.

This is one of those cookbooks that is a better read than an aid in the kitchen.  (Unless you’re going into yogurt production.)  It’s definitely worth the perusal though.

With so many of the recipes being whey based, I was hard pressed to find a recipe to highlight from the book but I persevered.   There was one recipe for Carrot Preserves with cardamom, pistachios and rose water.  I so wanted to make this recipe for publication today.   It sounded divine, especially as the author advises to slather it between a layer cake.   As much as I love to make preserves, jams and jellies, this just did not get done.

I do have it saved and will try to post it this spring.

To read all my cookbook reviews thus far (perhaps for gift ideas), click here.

I’m linking up with Foodie Reads for December.

2 comments to Yogurt and Whey by Homa Dashtaki, a review