One of the hardest things to substitute are food with extremely distinct taste. The key is to find the area of taste and the texture of the original material in order to not spoil the meal.
A curd is made when an acid is introduced to milk, as the proteins chunk together and make a solid white mass often used in dishes such as poutine, kadhi pakora, and curd rice.
The easiest way to substitute curd is with light cheeses, heavy cream, mashed potatoes, sour cream, or nuts.
1. Light Cheeses
The reason that light cheeses can make a good substitute for curd is the taste is extraordinarily similar, and cheese with high fat can be melted to the same texture. When you’re looking for a light cheese to replace curd in a dish, you should look for cheeses similar to mozzarella.
The high fat content makes the cheese easier to melt, as well as making it have milder flavor than a sharp cheese such as cheddar. To properly replace curd, make sure to not salt the dish as much as you usually would, as cheese has a higher content than regular curd. This is widely regarded as one of the best substitutes, and the best way to prepare it for this substitution is simply to grate it beforehand.
2. Heavy Cream
Heavy cream is also a good substitute for curd sue to the thickness and creaminess that it shares. Heavy cream is a popularly used ingredient, meaning that people are more acclimated to the taste and even less likely to notice the difference. Heavy cream contains significantly less sodium than the average curd, so it’s a good idea to add a slight bit of extra salt to bring the flavor where it needs to be.
3. Mashed Potatoes
While unconventional, mashed potatoes can make a great substitute for curd, especially in texture. The way that many people make mashed potatoes is with a chunky texture, and the chunks of potatoes very closely resemble the chunks of curd. The only downside to using this as a substitute is that the starchiness of the potato can be hard to handle.
The odd quirk to fixing this is to add just a little bit of another substitute, being mozzarella cheese. The creaminess of the cheese really does change the starchiness of the potatoes, as well as giving a more organic feel to the meal in general.
4. Sour Cream
This is not the best substitute on the list, but in a pinch, a slight bit of sour cream will be able to replace missing curd. The only real issue with sour cream is the abundance of flavor that it has, and it can be really hard to mask that, even using flavor theories.
If you’re going to use sour cream, you will probably need to use a type of neutralizing flavor in order to make sure that the pungent flavor doesn’t give the substitute away. This would probably be best done when mixed with a very mild milk product, such as unsweetened heavy cream.
Like how you can use nuts to make vegan cheese, you can make it into a curd substitute that is surprisingly close in texture and taste to actual curd. The easiest nut to use when making any cheese product is the cashew, because the flavor and waxy texture is closest to dairy based products.
In order to make nut-based cheese, soak your cashews in water for about 30 minutes and put cashews, lemon zest, your chosen spices, and a slight bit of sea salt. When you mix these together, you’ll get a texture like ricotta, making it a perfect replacement for curd in terms of texture and taste.
Why Are These Options the Best?
The reason that these options are superior to others is they closely match the flavor and texture profile of the curds in general. Using things like sweet cream as a substitute wont fair well because the savory addition to the dish will be gone, replaced with a conflicting flavor. There are certain aspects of curds that are easily replicable by other milk and cheese-based products, because they contain similar amounts of sodium.
These options will work the best, but they won’t be exact matches to the curd. Luckily, adding salt to the dish can make it almost indistinguishable.