Luscious cucumber raita is a creamy and cooling Indian condiment. My friend who married into an Indian family taught me this recipe, and it is particularly delightful. Strained or Greek-style yogurt is used as a base for a rich, substantial texture.
Raita is a traditional Indian side dish (salad) that is most commonly used as a condiment. It is made with yogurt and a combination of other ingredients. Cucumber and mint are usually added. In addition it can be made with eggplant, beets, chickpeas, spinach, and sometimes even fruit.
The cucumber version or raita is quite similar to tzatziki, a Greek yogurt sauce. To clarify, the big difference between the two condiments is spices and sweetness. Typically raita is spiced and often lightly sweetened by honey or fruit. The flavor is delicate, providing a mellowing counterpoint to spicy foods. Most often raita includes a combination of fresh green herbs like mint, dill, parsley, or coriander.
My friend Sandra shared this raita recipe with me; she learned about Indian cuisine from her husband’s family. However, I do make one adjustment to her method — I use Greek (strained) yogurt to give it a thicker and creamier texture. Yogurt makes this dish really refreshing. Consequently, raita is often served with spicy curry dishes, as it helps to offset the heat.
Tip: for a thicker raita, you may strain the Greek yogurt using the method outlined in this post before making the recipe. Keep in mind you’ll be reducing the water content, so you’ll end up with less total ounces for the recipe.
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- 1 large Persian cucumber, grated
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (use a thick unsweetened cashew yogurt or your favorite unsweetened non-dairy yogurt for vegan)
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon honey (use agave for vegan)
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
- Pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
- Pinch of sea salt (or more to taste)
- Grate the cucumber using using a cheese grater with large holes. Squeeze the grated cucumber in a cheesecloth or in a mesh strainer to remove excess liquid. In a small mixing bowl, combine the grated cucumber with the rest of the ingredients.
- Stir until well combined. Add more salt to taste, if desired.
- Chill and serve.
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