India—Savory Yogurt Sauce (Raita)

 

Indian Sideindian savory yogurt-raita

Savory Yogurt Sauce
Raita
(Makes 1 cup)

Indians use Raita (pronounced ri-tah) as an cool, refreshing accompaniment to just about any dish...especially their spicier ones.


1 C plain yogurt*
1/2 C cucumber (peeled, seeded, finely chopped)
1 small onion (minced)
handful coriander/cilantro leaves (chopped)
4 fresh mint leaves (chopped)
pinch each cumin, cinnamon, pepper
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste

* Thick yogurt works best, as it will thin out when you add cucumber. Try Greek yogurt...or drain regular yogurt through cheese cloth for a couple of hours.

| See more Indian recipes |

Tips & Glossary

Many of the ingredients used for Indian cooking probably aren’t in your spice shelf. And you may find them only at specialty Indian stores. So to avoid frustration, make a list of the items you need before trying out the recipes.

Watch out for those chilies! Unless you love the real hot stuff, reduce the amount of chili called for in the recipe.

Asafoetida: a powdered spice related to the fennel family.

Basmati Rice: literally “Queen of fragrance." This rice, cultivated in India, is known for its delicate flavor and fragrance.

Besan: also known as “gram flour,” made of ground chana dal, like chickpeas, only smaller and lighter in color.

Cardamom: related to the ginger family. Pods (green, brown, or black) are the best way to store cardamom. But high-quality ground is also available. A rule of thumb: 10 pods = 1 1/2 tsp. ground.

Chili: any small hot pepper, as opposed to larger, milder bell peppers; widely used in Indian cuisine.

Coriander: aka cilantro, Chinese, or Mexican parsley. Both fresh leaves and dried ground seeds are used in Indian, Asian and Mexican cuisines.

Cumin: an aromatic, kin to parsley and carrot plant; an important ingredient in chili powder. Used especially in Indian curries. It has an earthy, peppery flavor.

Curry: a generic term for a soups and stews flavored with variety of spices—most often cumin, coriander, and tumeric, but others as well. You can make curry powder or buy it commercially.

Garam Masala: literally, “hot spice,” usually a mixture of cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods. McCormick makes it; even Cooks Illustrated rated it highly.

Ghee: clarified butter. Melt 1 lb. unsalted butter over low heat for 20 minutes (careful not to burn), remove from heat and skim away solids. Strain through cheesecloth into a separate container and keep…forever. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated. If you buy commercial ghee, make sure it comes from real butter, not hydrogenated oils.

Saffron: stigma from the crocus family; it’s the most expensive spice in the world. Buy saffron threads; before using them, steep in a little hot water for 10 minutes to release flavor.

 

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