Like it's Greek cousin, tzatziki, raita is a delicious, refreshing combination of yogurt, herbs, cucumber, and either garlic or onion. Its creamy, herb-spiked coolness offers a welcome respite from spicy foods and adds flavor to all manner of curries, roasted vegetables, mezze, grilled meats, and fishes.
As with most things I like, raita is also very easy to make. Spoon out a cup or two of whole milk, plain yogurt (yes, full fat). It can be Greek, it can be Bulgarian, it can be European, it can be good old American, just as long as it's plain and still has all the fat nature intended it to have. Trust me, I've mistakenly made raita with non-fat yogurt and it is but a poor shadow of the full-fat version.
Chop up some good, crisp cucumbers. If they're organic and the skins look good, leave 'em on, otherwise, peel them first. You can slice them or dice them into whatever size pieces you like. I usually cut my cukes up into a fairly small dice for raita and tend to cut them into larger half-slices for tzatziki.
Add either a little very finely chopped onion (red or yellow or white – whatever you like or have on hand) or a small clove of finely chopped or pressed garlic. I tend to use onion in my tzatziki and garlic in my raita.
Then come the herbs. My usual suspects are cilantro, mint, and parsley but don't let that hem you in. Feel free to try some fennel fronds chopped up or some fresh dill. If you're making tzatziki, fresh oregano and dill be a great combination.
Then stir it all together, add rather a lot of sea salt and black pepper and stir again. Taste it and adjust, as needed. If you use a Greek yogurt you will probably need to thin it out a little bit with some milk or water.
Raita – Cucumber herb yogurt sauce
Serves 4 to 6
2 cups plain, whole milk organic yogurt
1/2 organic cucumber, diced or sliced (your choice)
1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
A very generous handful of fresh herbs, chopped – cilantro, parsley, and mint are my favorites
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
A little milk to thin with (optional)
Mix all the ingredients, stir well and taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Chill and serve. If you can make this several hours or even a day or two ahead of time, the flavors will be that much stronger.
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