Skewered chicken

Cooking with yogurt: For this skewered chicken dish author Arto Der Haroutunian suggests serving it with a tomato and onion salad, plus rice pilaf. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune)

To stabilize yogurt for a dish that may be cooked at a higher heat, cookbook author Arto Der Haroutunian suggests: Stir 1 to 2 teaspoons flour into a little water then add to yogurt before cooking. Or beat an egg into the yogurt before cooking.

Shopping tips

Dietitian Sarah Krieger offers these tips:

  • "Always look at the ingredients first. Know what you're eating."
  • Not all Greek yogurts are created equal. Check ingredients beyond milk and live cultures. Some yogurt makers may be "adjusting their recipes to accommodate what people are looking for," she says. Sometimes that means adding thickeners (i.e. gelatin or cornstarch) to yogurts strained only twice rather that the usual three times.
  • "People with lactose intolerance may find Greek yogurt easier to digest," she says since Greek yogurt has less lactose (found in the whey).
  • Yogurts are made using live cultures (good bacteria such as S. thermophilus, and L. bulgaricus, as well as others). Look for the National Yogurt Association's "Live & Active Cultures" seal identifying "yogurt products that contain significant amounts of live and active cultures."

Skewered chicken (murgh tikka)

Prep: 20 minutes
Marinate: Overnight
Cook: 10-15 minutes
Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from "The Yogurt Cookbook" by Arto Der Haroutunian (Interlink Books, $35). The author suggests serving it with a tomato and onion salad, plus rice pilaf or the Indian bread, chapati. Two-percent Greek yogurt was used in our testing.

Ingredients:
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons each: ground coriander, salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or mint

1. Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes. Put the onion, garlic, ginger and lemon juice in a blender; puree until smooth. Empty paste into a large non-reactive bowl. Add yogurt, coriander, salt and cumin; mix well. Add chicken pieces; turn until well coated. Cover; refrigerate overnight.

2. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade; thread pieces on skewers. Cook on a grill or under a broiler, turning frequently, 10-12 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped mint or cilantro.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 255 calories, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 127 mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, 46 g protein, 228 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.

Apricot and yogurt custard

Prep: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Cook: 30-40 minutes
Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from "The Yogurt Cookbook" by Arto Der Haroutunian (Interlink Books, $35), this dish has a firm texture, not unlike cheesecake. The egg yolks help stabilize the yogurt. We used 2 percent Greek yogurt in testing.

Ingredients:

4 ounces dried apricots, soaked overnight in cold water
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Drain softened apricots; cut them into small pieces. Place in a 4-cup baking dish. Beat yogurt and yolks together in a bowl; pour over apricots. Place baking dish in a baking pan. Pour enough cold water into the pan to come halfway up the outside of the baking dish. Bake until set, 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool. To serve, mix brown sugar with pistachios. Sprinkle over top.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 297 calories, 16 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 112 mg cholesterol, 29 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 45 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.

jhevrdejs@tribune.com