Maybe you've seen kefir in your supermarket's dairy section, even paused to pick up a bottle, considering the purchase. Or maybe you routinely buy it as part of your weekly grocery haul. But, if you're still not sure exactly what it kefir is, Julie Smolyansky, author of The Kefir Cookbook, has the answers. "Kefir is a fermented and cultured dairy milk that originated over 2000 years ago in the Caucasus Mountains," she tells Refinery29.
Kefir has the consistency of a smoothie or milkshake and Smolyansky describes its flavor as having a tart and tangy effervescence (a.k.a. the champagne of dairy). "It makes a great base for your favorite smoothie, offers a creamy and thick texture for your favorite veggie soup, salad dressings and dips practically dance when kefir is the ingredient, baked goods are light and moist, don’t even get me started on how tender and juicy chicken gets when kefir is used as a marinade," she says. But Smolyansky's favorite way to enjoy the milk is straight from the bottle, "What can I say? I’m a purist. That cool thick creamy and tangy combo gets me every time."
Whether it's a frittata, a plate of salmon sliders, or a batch of popsicles, the kefir recipe options are endless — and Smolyansky's cookbook proves it. "Enjoying food – all types – is one of life’s simplest pleasures," she says. Scroll ahead to start your own kefir journey with three of Smolyansky's best kefir recipes. Her advice for when you make them? A great playlist and great company is all you need for a successful evening.