Cucumber Mint Raita

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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.

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Showing 4 of 41 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 :)

  • Madhu Babu

    Have seen your site before … lovely work!! Ran into this page while toodling around to see if raita will work on spicy chicken as a sandwich topping…
    Recently made raita with finely shredded raw mango,chopped english cucumber, green chilli….. it was yummy yummy with pulao & biriyani! make sure the yogurt is not too sour.

  • The food doctor

    Hello,
    This is my first time commenting on your wonderful site though I have been a regular visitor for a while

    My favorite Raita recipe is
    shredded carrots
    finely chopped cucumbers
    dried corriander
    and ofcourse yogurt..
    The longer this sets after preparation the better it tastes because the corriander infuses the yogurt better

  • Rani

    Teeny suggestion…using just the yogurt raita (without adding any vegetables) but with all the spices and herbs makes a great, albeit thin, spread for tea sandwiches…for sliced tomato or cucumber sandwiches on good, thin bread with the crusts cut off…too bad it’s not tea time for me! If you turn up the heat by throwing all this (sans cucumbers) in a mini-food processor with a couple of green chili peppers, it becomes a great chutney/dip for kebabs, much like the Greek tzatziki. Love your site!

  • Mugdha

    There are a lot of variations of raita which I like to make, some slightly unusual but very tasty and easy to make are boiled potato raita, where you basically boil or roast potatoes or just microwave them on baked potatoes setting, mash them coarsely, add cumin powder, chili powder and some mint pretty much the way you did for the cucumber raita above.

    Another favorite is spinach raita, boil spinach lightly with one cut onion, drain off the liquid and slighly puree them (I mostly don’t, since the leaves become soft after boiling, just chop up the spinach and onions together) and add to yogurt with some salt, pepper, cumin powder and very little sugar…perfect raita for summer.

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