What is raita?

by admin on August 15, 2007 · 6 comments

Like butterflies, snowflakes, thumbprints, unhappy families and Coldplay songs (though they come close), no two raitas are exactly alike. A chilled yogurty vegetable (or fruit) condiment native to India, raita’s basic formula is 2 cups of yogurt plus a chopped vegetable or two, plus various spices and herbs.

There are eggplant raitas, potato raitas, onion-chickpea raitas, carrot-tomato raitas, banana raitas, mango raitas and raitas made from pretty much anything else you can mix with yogurt and spices.

The traditional raita is made with cucumber, though this too can vary according to herb (mint vs. cilantro, for example), spice (cumin vs. coriander vs. chili powder vs. mustard seed) or additional vegetable (tomatoes vs. chile pepper). We like a very mild cucumber raita to serve alongside spicy meat and vegetable dishes.

Do you have a favorite raita?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary August 15, 2007 at 10:12 am

I make a fairly traditional version with shredded carrot, cucumber and a touch of garlic and also one from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking with walnuts and coriander. Both are good, what makes them great is homemade yogurt. Once you try making your own, you’ll be hooked.

Mallika August 15, 2007 at 12:06 pm

The really traditional stuff is with finely chopped tomatoes, cucumber and onions with spice powders like coriander, cumin and chilli spinkled on top. But you can loads of varieties and they all taste superb.

Lydia August 15, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Call me boring, but I adore cucumber and mint raita more than any other variation. It is not just the antidote to heat and spice, but a yummy dip all by itself.

Farah August 15, 2007 at 1:26 pm

Cucumber and mint all the way — sometimes I just eat it plain!

Cynthia August 15, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Thank you so very very much for this. It is simple and easy to understand and make. Big thanks.

Beemer January 25, 2008 at 5:19 pm

I was googling for connection between thumbprints and butterflies and found it in your blog entry on raita. That first line is sheer poetry. Can’t wait to try your recipe.

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