Raita is a South Asian condiment made of yogurt, herbs, spices, cucumber, and/or onion. It is very much like Greek tzatizki. Because it is cooling to the mouth, raita is traditionally served with hot curries. You can season this basic recipe with cilantro, mint, ground cumin, and/or ground hot peppers such as cayenne, if you like. For serving with Curried Red Dal, though, I prefer the simple cucumber version because the dal has its own seasonings. SAM

PS I have read that in the Indian Ayurvedic healing tradition. cucumber and yogurt are not served together. Maybe some of our very knowledgeable Indian readers can enlighten us.

1 (16-ounce) carton plain yogurt, whole-milk, reduced-fat, or non-fat
2 (4- to 5-inch) cucumbers, peeled and coarsely grated

This is same procedure we followed for Yogurt Cheese. Line a 7-inch sieve or colander with two layers of paper towels, letting the edges hang over the rim. Place it over a large bowl and spoon in 16 ounces of plain yogurt. Fold the paper towels over the top, anchor with a small plate, and place a 5-pound weight on top. Let drip for 3 or 4 hours or overnight in the fridge. Meanwhile, place the grated cucumber in another sieve over a large bowl with a weighted plate on top and let drip for 1 hour. Save the juice in the bowl for thinning the Raita. Combine the Yogurt Cheese and cucumber, thinning with juice, if necessary. Serve on Curried Red Dal or as a dip.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.

4 Responses to Raita

  1. […] canned tomatoes, but fresh summer tomatoes take it to new heights. Serve it with Pickled Slaw and Raita, that cooling combination of yogurt and cucumber [recipe tomorrow], and bask in the compliments. […]

  2. Hi Emily, we too make this raita!

    I love raita. Sometimes I have it for breakfast. Do you have a recipe for a chick pea-spinach dish called something like ‘chana saag’? My husband and I enjoy a spinach saag at an Indian restaurant in London, but I don’t think it has chick peas in it. Chick peas are also known here as ‘garbanzos.’ I don’t know the Indian name for them.

  3. lakshmi says:

    saag is greens cooked with green chillies, garlic and roughly chopped tomatoes and onions. the ingredients are as basic as that – sometimes either maize flour or wheat flour is added towards the end to thicken the saag. saag is served with paneer sometimes, and you can always add whole boiled chick peas to it.

    the most popular sarson ka saag is mustard greens and spinach greens cooked together. it’s a standard accompaniment to makki ki roti or maize flour flatbreads.

    Thank you. The markets here have wonderful greens, especially after the first frost. Could I use canned green chilies if I can’t find fresh ones?

  4. lakshmi says:

    definitely – you could use canned green chillies – in fact i am wondering if substituting jalapenos for green chillies will lend the saag a different taste.

    I’ve been buying fresh jalapeños at my farmers’ market, also poblanos. I’ll try making saag with them.

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