Raita is a yogurt based condiment which helps aid in digestion. Most meals in India are served with a small serving of raita, along with some chutney to accompany and compliment many dishes. The basic raita is made with cucumbers as the main vegetable, but there are some variations that can be made using other vegetables. Yoghurt is cooling, so these are especially refreshing in the hot summer months.
Basic Cucumber Raita
- 2 cucumbers
- 3 Tbsp ghee
- ½ tsp black mustard seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- Pinch or 2 of hing (asaeofetida)
- 4 curry leaves (fresh or dried)
- Approx. 1/8 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- ½ chopped small hot chili or a pinch of cayenne
- ½ cup plain yoghurt
Peel and grate the cucumbers, pouring off the excess liquid. Heat the ghee in a saucepan on medium heat, adding the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves. Cook until the seeds pop and add the chili and cilantro, shaking the pan before turning the heat off. Stir the yoghurt, and cucumbers together When spices have cooled, add to mixture and mix well.
Some variances on the recipe above:
Spinach Raita Instead of the cucumbers, wash and chop finely a large bunch of spinach (about 4 cups) Add ¼ tsp salt and a pinch of turmeric to the spice mixture. Add ½ cup finely chopped roasted peanuts (not peanut butter) and mix all together. Using the recipe above, but omitting the peanuts, some refreshing alternatives are to use raw carrots &/or beets. Another addition that is sometimes used with carrot or beet raita is a Tbsp of sesame seeds.