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Recipe for raita (Indian yogurt and cucumber condiment) {vegetarian, gluten-free}


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)

From the pantry, you'll need: kosher salt, plain yogurt, lime, coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, fresh black pepper.

Serves 8-10.


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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Cool-as-a-cucumber smoothie with Greek yogurt
Chickpea falafel
Chicken tikka
North African harissa turkey meatballs

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

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Delicious with a hot curry! YUM

Misty, it's one of my favorite combinations, too.

I haven't made this, but it sounds like a more exotic version of Tzatziki sauce, which I love!

Kalyn, it really is similar to tsatziki, with different spices. For both, you really need to squeeze the water out of the cucumber -- that's the secret.

I love raita, so cooling. When I took an Indian cooking class a while back, the instructor toasted the cumin seeds and ground them fresh before adding them to her raita - makes all the difference in the world.

Hi Lydia, just sharing some info which might widen our knowledge base for raita.
1. Raita is beaten curd/ yoghurt
2. You can very well replace cucumber with mixed veg...onion, tomato,carrots, all grated or chopped fine.
4. There are some popular variants, pineapple raita, where cucumber is relaced with finely chopped pineapple; Potato raita, where in stead of cucumber, we use boiled potato, chopped; or, Boondi raita, where we add crisp veru very small bengal gram dumplings for the crunchy feel.

The very basic raita does not have cucumber, it is just onion, tomato and chilli.

Your recipe promises a real cooler. Will definitely try it out

Great idea -- I just made it, but with my friend's garum masala blend as the spice.

this looks like something i can make. yay!

Jeanette, toasting the cumin would definitely bump up the flavor.

Arundhati, thanks for this great information. I don't think I've ever had raita without cucumber, but I've had it with tomato. So grateful to you for adding to our knowledge.

Mae, I'll bet your friend's homemade spice blend was great in this.

Paz, yes you can!

I have to say the pineapple Raita suggested above sounds intriguing. Also some would use the valuable cucumber water (unsalted) as a facial tonic - refreshing and healthy for the skin!

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