Raita (RI-tah) is salad, relish, dip and side dish in one. Served as a condiment in India, this cooling yogurt concoction requires barely any cooking and is quickly made with common ingredients. There are sweet raitas, some that are downright fiery and many that are given more texture with the addition of chopped onion, cucumber or bell pepper, and a burst of flavor from fresh herbs like mint and cilantro. There are infinite variations, and you can take them in any direction you like.
The closest approximation in western cuisine is a side dish or dip, or a cooked salad. It is often referred to as a condiment, but unlike traditional western condiments like, salt, pepper, mustard and horseradish that made dishes more spicy, a dish of dahi or raita has a cooling effect to contrast with spicy curries and kebabs that are the main fare of some asian cuisines. In vegetarian Indian cuisine, some type of flatbread may be eaten together with raita,chutneys and pickles. The yogurt may be seasoned with coriander, roasted cumin seeds; mint, cayenne pepper, chaat masala and other herbs and spices.
This raita recipe is a simple combination of mixed vegetables and yogurt combined with Indian spices. I have used greek yogurt and as it was very thick, I added some water to it to make it a pourable consistency. The vegetables I used are cucumber, carrot, tomato and onion. Depending on your taste and preference, you can add or reduce any vegetable. For example, boiled potato and raw cabbage tastes equally great with this dip. Use the raita as a side dish for parathas, biryani or khichdi.
1 ½ cup Yogurt
1 cup Vegetables (Onions, Carrots, Tomatoes, Cucumber)
Roasted Cumin powder, Dhania Jeera Powder
Beat yogurt in a bowl and make a smooth mixture. Add salt, pepper, cumin powder and dhania jeera powder and beat again. If you are using greek yogurt and it is too thick, add a couple of spoons of water and mix well. If you do not have roasted jeera powder, it is very easy to make. Just roast 2 tablespoon of cumin seeds on a tava till it is fragrant. Keep stirring the seeds on medium flame. Turn down the heat, cool and powder in a dry mixer pot. This powder can be stored in an airtight container for several days.
Now, dice all the vegetables to cubes of equal size, about ½ cm each. Drop all of them into the seasoned yogurt. Top with finely chopped cilantro and serve with Mixed Vegetable Pulao or Cracked Wheat Khichdi.