The Birth Of A Dahi-Wallah

Everyone has their Eureka moment sometime – and for Jordan Soroko, a product developer for Derle Farms, it came during a conversation with an Indian restaurateur in New Jersey. Derle Farms, owned by the Abrahamson family, is one of the larger independent diaries in the tri-state area and had been providing tons of milk to the restaurateur. Soroko was curious why so much milk was being bought and was told it was to make yogurt.


Why not just buy the yogurt available in mainstream supermarkets? The answer was, “Oh, no, the yogurt we have in this country is nothing like what we have in India.” Soroko asked him if it was big business, and was told, “The Indian community uses more yogurt than you can possibly imagine. If you did this, it would be the best thing you could ever do.”

Off went Soroko to Indian stores to check this out and says, “I took a look and could not believe my eyes how much yogurt was in the store and it was all American yogurt! And I said to myself, ‘Wait, they don’t like this yogurt but still they are having it because there’s nothing available for them.'”

Soroko researched and learnt that Indian yogurt was thicker, richer, full fat, smooth and with no acidic taste. It took him over a year of creating samples to perfect the formula. Finally one day his tasters’ eyes lit up: “It’s just like what we have in India.” He was told that dahi was the Hindi word for yogurt and desi was the word for South Asians living in this country, so “Desi Natural Dahi” was born, and Soroko registered the name. It’s produced in low fat, nonfat and whole milk versions.

It all started with one small batch, which he took to the Indian stores. It was sold out so next came a bigger batch, which sold out too. The phone calls started coming, from desis starved for dahi, and the orders came in from stores from Atlanta to Texas to Florida: “It was one city after another.”  Ask Soroko about the quantities and he’s tightlipped:  ‘That’s classified.” But obviously Derle Farms is doing well with Desi Dahi? He says, “I wish to God that everybody should do as good.”

His clients next told Soroko that he’d be missing the boat if he didn’t do paneer. So Desi Paneer debuted from Derle Farms and even Desi Lassi in 10 ounce bottles in mango, sweet rose, salty and sweet flavors. This is a summer product. but the latest introduction has been Desi Makhan, the butter of the Indian villages.

Already another milk company in Flushing, Queens, Raz Dairy, has come up with Natural Dahi and added an extra cream version. The manager, Mohammed Abdolah, said they are supplying wholesale to many Indian stores.  With the South Asian population in the U.S. ever expanding, the mainstream will soon catch on to the potential of this hidden market, and before long we’ll probably see the major companies jumping on the bandwagon. Stay tuned to the battle of the Dahi-Wallahs! 

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