Recipe for raita (Indian yogurt and cucumber condiment)
As many as there are cooks, that's the number of variations of the basic recipe for raita, the famous Indian yogurt and cucumber condiment that accompanies every meal. What they all have in common are yogurt and cucumber, two ingredients that cool the fires of the most incendiary vindaloo. Where you go from there is up to you. Mint makes frequent appearances in raita; if you have some in your garden, go ahead and add a teaspoon or so. Some cooks add caramelized onions or eggplant. This version of raita pairs perfectly with slow cooker Indian-spiced lentils. Remember that raita is a fire extinguisher, and keep the ingredients calm and soothing.
Raita (Indian yogurt and cucumber sauce)
1 large English (seedless) cucumber, ends trimmed, grated on the largest holes of a box grater
Kosher salt (1-2 tsp)
2 cups nonfat plain yogurt (use lowfat or whole milk yogurt if you prefer)
2 scallions, white and green parts minced
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
Pinch each of: nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cardamom
Fresh black pepper, to taste
In a colander lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter, sprinkle the grated cucumber with 1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and toss gently. Place the colander over a bowl, and let sit for 30 minutes. Then, rinse the cucumber in cold water to remove the excess salt.
Spread a clean dish towel on your counter, and overturn the colander on top of it. Pull up the ends of the dish towel, and, twisting it to tighten around the cucumber, squeeze as hard as you can to extract every bit of liquid. (You'll be surprised at how much comes out.)
Empty the cucumber into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir well to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the raita into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, to allow the flavors to marry, or up to 6 hours. Stir again right before serving, and serve cold.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Cucumber yogurt salad, from Simply Recipes
Baked spinach kofta with cucumber-yogurt sauce, from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Spice-roasted Cornish hens with cucumber-yogurt sauce, from Big Flavors From a Tiny Kitchen
Prawn curry and cucumber-onion raita, from Deetsa's Diningroom
Eggplant and split chick pea curry, from Tofu for Two