Raita, an Indian yogurt side dish is very popular in our house. If the family could have it every day with their meal they would. It’s basically yogurt with raw vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, cilantro and cucumbers along with some spices. In many Indian households raita is used to soothe the palate when the main Indian meal is too spicy, as the cool yogurt raita helps to neutralize the heat of chili.
Tomato and Onion Raita:
- Plain yogurt. 2 cups any type
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber
- 1 tomato finely chopped
- Few sprigs of cilantro finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp asafoetida powder
Place all the cut vegetables in a bowl. Add yogurt and salt and mix all ingredients together. Set aside.
Warm 1 tbsp oil. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Turn the stove off. Add 1 tsp asafoetida powder until aroma is released (about 2-3 sec). Add green chili or red chili if using and lightly fry in warm oil for 2-3 seconds. Add this oil to the yogurt and mix-in.
Top with chopped cilantro for garnish and serve raita chilled.
Cook’s Notes: Indian restaurants serve a simple raita with just the yogurt and raw vegetables. If you don’t have any of the spices listed, you can make raita without them. Just mix yogurt with vegetables with a pinch of salt and pepper. If you have cumin powder, you can add 1/2 tsp cumin powder to any combination of yogurt and raw vegetables to make a delicious raita in an instant.
There are many variations of raita. I’ve made raita with chopped spinach and onions, a variation with grated cucumbers and cilantro, one with shredded carrots and onions, the possibilities are endless. Below is a raita that my friend Shalini made with grated carrots, onions, and cilantro.
Try making raita as a side dish, to have with rice, or to serve as a dip along with potato chips or pita bread.