For me, an Indian meal is not complete unless there is a bowl of cooling yogurt along side it. Called raita, you have probably encountered this creamy side dish when you have eaten meals at Indian restaurants. This is not one of those only when in a restaurant dishes though. Growing up we had yogurt at just about every dinner. Sometimes it would be plain and sometimes it would be dressed up with vegetables, herbs, and spices. My absolute favorite version of it includes cucumber and fresh mint.
This recipe is so simple I hardly think of it as a recipe. Cucumber is grated and then combined with yogurt. The water left by the cucumber thins the yogurt to the perfect consistency. Some thinly sliced mint leaves and salt are added and also the game changer – crushed, toasted cumin seeds. This one little spice adds a smoky note to the dish and so much complexity. The secret is in the toasting. This quick added step really develops the flavor of the cumin. I love toasted cumin in chile and salads as well. I will often make a bunch of it and use it when the mood strikes.
I have been known to make a meal of just raita and rice but it tastes divine when paired with other robust dishes like kali dal or chicken reshmi kebabs. Raita also saves me when I overdo the spice level. I just give my kids a whopping dollop of raita with whatever overly spicy dish and they honestly don’t notice the extra heat. In honor of the just passed Mother’s Day, I do have to thank my mom for encouraging me to write this post. She claims all her non-Indian friends love raita and want to know how to make it. Well Mom, now you can send them here! Thanks for the suggestion.
Also, as a final side note – I did get to watch a couple of episodes of Chef’s Table over the weekend on Netflix and it is utterly beautiful – so well done. I am a former television producer and I usually can find something to harp about in whatever I watch. This series, they nailed it. Nicely done, Netflix. Thanks for making intelligent, gorgeous programming about chefs and their inspiring food.