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Raita (Indian Cucumber-Yogurt Dip)

Raita

This is my new favorite thing. The other day, my friend Laura introduced me to this great little Indian café on Franklin street, and I got Tandoori Chicken, which they served with rice and some yogurty cucumberish stuff that turned out to be raita. All I knew at the time was that it tasted like yogurt and cucumbers and I wanted more of it. So the next day, I googled ‘Indian cucumber yogurt stuff,’ and that’s how I learned that it actually has a real name, and isn’t just called ‘Indian cucumber yogurt stuff.’

I really wanted some, right then, but much to my dismay, I didn’t have yogurt on hand. I did, however, have a quart of kefir, and a fermented milk product is a fermented milk product, right? Anyways, that was my reasoning. (It turned out delicious with the kefir, but it’s probably even better with yogurt, so feel free to use either!)

There’s not really a ‘traditional’ raita recipe, because it exists in many different permutations depending on who’s making it, and where it’s being served. The primary component is yogurt (kefir in my case), and cucumber is usually present, but beyond that, it’s up to the chef. It’s pretty common to add different herbs or spices (I saw mint and cumin used a lot in the recipes I saw online), and some people will add other fresh vegetables, or even fruits. I decided to keep mine simple and go with cucumber, salt, and pepper, but feel free to experiment! (Here’s the raita Wikipedia page to get your creative juices flowing.) Read more →