Cucumber Mint Raita

A cool and refreshing Indian condiment for hot and spicy dishes, made with yogurt, cumin, cucumber, and mint.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Whenever I go out to eat at an Indian restaurant, I make sure the meal includes plenty of raita on the side. Raita is a yogurt-based condiment that can help douse the fire if a dish is just a little to hot and spicy.

In much the same way that sour cream or crema fresca is served with chili-infused Mexican food, the casein in the yogurt absorbs capsaicin, the compound that gives chili its heat. Raita can be used as a sauce or a dip.

This raita is made with cucumber and mint because I have plenty of mint growing around the yard and cucumbers are plentiful at the farmers market. You could easily use cilantro instead of the mint, or carrots or papaya in place of the cucumbers.

Do you have a favorite raita recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Cucumber Mint Raita Recipe

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  • Yield: Makes 2 1/2 cups

If you are using English cucumbers, which are more mild and thin-skinned than the regular cucumbers we get in America, you do not need to peel them.

Ingredients

  • One large (or two medium) cucumbers, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and seeded, then grated
  • 2 cups (475 ml) plain whole milk yogurt
  • 10 large mint leaves, thinly sliced* (can sub cilantro)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin**
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Salt and pepper

* To slice the mint leaves, "chiffonade" them by stacking them on top of each other, rolling them up like a cigar, and taking thin slices off the end.

** If whole cumin seeds are available, take one teaspoon and toast the seeds first in a small skillet until just fragrant. Then grind with a mortar and pestle.

Method

1 Place grated cucumber in a sieve and press with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Alternatively, you can place the grated cucumber in the middle of a clean tea towel, wrap the towel around the cucumber and wring out the excess moisture.

2 Stir spices and mint into yogurt in a medium bowl. Stir in the grated cucumber. Chill until ready to serve.

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Links:

Cucumber, radish, cilantro raita from Herbivoracious

Cucumber raita (Perugu Pachadi) - from Sailu's Kitchen

General Chemistry Online: Fire and Spice - an explanation of how milk relieves the heat from chili.

Showing 4 of 33 Comments

  • Hannah

    I’m planning a big Indian meal for a bunch of friends, so I’ve been browsing the internet for inspiration. I’ve never tried a recipe from your blog even though they often look and sound so amazing because I hate converting to the decimal system, but I guess with this Raita, it’s not such a big effort, so I’ll finally try one of your recipes :)

  • Isin

    This is almost the same as tzatziki or cacik as we call it in Turkish. Cacik is a very basic Turkish dish. Goes best with aubergines and boreks but it is a perfect accompaniment to almost all summer meals. The purpose is definitely to eat lightly in hot summer days, take away your thirst but still have something nutritous. It is perfect for a diet, too.

    To prepare cucumbers are either grated or cut into small cubes. Salt and garlic to taste are definitely added. We also add a lot of mint, usually in dried form. Paprika or cumin is not very common. A few drops of olive oil is also a nice addition. Usually the Turkish version has more water than the tzatziki.

  • ann omalley

    I would like to know how to do the onions in spicy sauce that accompany the cucumber raita. when you have pompadoms. Thanks.

  • Km

    for variations and esp if you are using this as a dip try these variations:
    -finely chopped fresh tomatoes and red onion,
    – finely chopped green chilis ( yes, chilis!)
    it tastes wonderful with toasted bread/chips
    – some KIX cereal.. adds a nice crunchy flavor

  • JungMann

    I like to add a slight squeeze of lime juice with my raita, particularly if I’m using a mild domestic yogurt. That little extra tang is especially good at cutting through richness when you mix the raita with biryani.

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Cucumber Mint Raita