Raita Recipes

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Cucumber Raita (Indian Yogurt Recipe) Recipe

Raita is an Indian condiment made with yogurt (dahi in Urdu). It's used in Indian cuisine as an "antidote" to spicy food. But the yogurt not only cuts the heat, it tastes great too.

Traditionally, raita is seasoned with cilantro, ground cumin, mint and red chili powder. For more texture, I added finely diced raw vegetables such as Persian cucumbers and tomatoes.

If you fancy a change of pace, you can try my “fusion” raita that uses a lot of French flavors and techniques. My husband Lulu loves it with khichdi!


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Punjabi-Style Chaat (Layers of Tomatoes, Raita, Ginger Garbanzo beans, Mint Sauce and Tamarind Chutney) Recipe

Chaat is an Indian snack. There are many varieties but they all use similar ingredients. If you think of it as in Mexican food where you see salsa, guacamole, sour cream, refried beans and cheese, repeated in many different dishes, similarly chaat is made up of a crispy fried bread called puri and garbanzo beans, tomatoes, yogurt, taramind, mint sauce and spices.

This particular version of chaat is one Lulu's aunt makes whenever she has a family get-together at her house. Since it's more constructed than many of the other chaats, it's got distinct layers. She usually serves it with potatoes as well, which I didn't have on hand; I'm going to post my personal favorite later on, which is called dahi papdi chaat.

For those of you who think Indian food is mostly butter chicken, tandoori chicken or palak paneer, there is a whole world of cuisine that I've been introduced to since I got married I never knew existed. I love South Indian food in particular and I'll try to put up some recipes from that region.


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Fusion Raita (Indian Yogurt Sauce) Recipe

Raita (click on the link for the traditional version) is an Indian condiment made with yogurt. It is paired with a lot of spicy dishes like biryani, tandoori chicken or vegetarian cutlets because dairy products have a cooling effect when food is extremely spicy. If you follow Ted Allen's show, Food Detectives, you've probably seen the premier episode which asks "What is the best way to cool your mouth after eating spicy food?" After some experimentation it was clear that dairy was the most effective.

This particular recipe is my take on traditional raita. Similar to the Greek sauce called tzatziki, I add dill, lemon, and olive oil. Being French, I also add some Dijon mustard to add some more complexity to the flavor. 

I know, some people are going to balk at my additions, but I think that sauces are the highlight of a meal, so why not enhance them with a lot of flavor? Sometimes I also add cilantro or dill, depending on what's available in my garden. I'll try to post the traditional recipe soon so that you can make your own variations to your taste.


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Masoor Dal Khichdi (Indian Orange Lentil Rice) Recipe

Kitcheri is a very simple recipe that requires only a few ingredients from the pantry. It's a blend of coral-colored lentils, called masoor dal, with basmati rice and a few other typical Indian spices.

It's very nutritious for all the vegetarians in the house. The lentils provide a lot of protein. The key to a good kitcheri though is a flavorful raita, or yogurt sauce. Check back tomorrow for the recipe!


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