Raita/Indian Food Pairing
August 21, 2011 2:51 PM   Subscribe

This is a two-part question: what's you're favorite raita recipe and what do you serve with it?

Cucumbers are coming fast and furious from the garden, and I have a hankering for raita. What's your favorite recipe?

The catch is that I also need a recipe for an Indian dish that pairs well with your favorite raita. Bonus points for a not-too-heavy summer dish.

posted by Short Attention Sp to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ack... *your*
posted by Short Attention Sp at 2:52 PM on August 21, 2011

Biryani and raita are perfect.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:07 PM on August 21, 2011

Best answer: I like to serve a simple cuke, whole cumin seed and mint raita with Julie Sahni's recipe for cauliflower cooked with mustard seeds, green chile, and green onions. Basically pop mustard seeds in hot oil, add onions and chile, saute til soft, stir in a teaspoon tumeric to bloom, the add a head of cauliflower + a 1/2 cup of water or so, cover cook until tender. Super easy for a weeknight supper with some rice. Probably totally untraditional, but what do I know.
posted by JPD at 3:42 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I always stick with the classic: cubed cucumber, chopped mint leaves, and stirred-smooth yogurt, plus salt & ground cumin to taste. I like to toss a small handful of toasted, cracked cumin and coriander seeds on top, along with a dash of cayenne and tumeric for color.

To me, vindaloo is the perfect pair for raita: nothing beats that combination of rich, hot, bright-red sauce with a cooling dollop of yogurt. I prefer the recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking. I don't think of it as a summer dish, though. For that, I'd suggest her Lemony Chicken with Fresh Coriander, which is an all-time favorite of mine. It cooks quickly, and benefits from lots of nice fresh cilantro -- perfect for summer. Raita is a great match for the sour-tangy flavor of the chicken.
posted by vorfeed at 3:43 PM on August 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

vorfeed is totes on the money. Something I like to do to up the flavour is grate a portion of the cucumber with a microplane, to really infuse the yoghurt.
posted by smoke at 4:09 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

This isn't Indian, but one of my favorite sandwiches from the place around the corner from my house is swiss and provolone cheeses in a pita which is then toasted so the cheese gets melty. Then it's stuffed with super thinly sliced tomatoes and cucumber, and raita poured in over the top of everything. It's messy, but really, really good. One of the things I miss most since giving up dairy.
posted by something something at 4:22 PM on August 21, 2011

Best answer: Yessssssss. Totally agree with all the above. Sometimes though in summers I like my raita real, real plain. Cucumber, yogurt (by the way? Yogurt makes a REAL difference here (ahem ahem, yum), so don't be using garbage yogurt) and a little salt and pepper and a little cumin, MAYBE a little cayenne, but only if the food isn't particularly spicy.

I love raita with... THE LAKE PALACE HOTEL’S AUBERGINE COOKED IN THE PICKLING STYLE, as Ms. Jaffrey put it so dramatically. It's light, even though you fry (and drain) the eggplants. Oh gosh, is that so good (and I HATE eggplant!) and boy am I ever hungry.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 4:24 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this is authentic, but I let the cucumber sit for about 15-30 minutes with salt and cumin on it. This causes the cuke to release some liquid and makes it absorb more flavor. Then I mix in the yogurt.
posted by matildaben at 4:56 PM on August 21, 2011

I use a lot of garlic, shed loads, and sugar and mint. And Greek yoghurt. The truck is being very, very generous with the garlic. And the mint. 1 pint of yoghurt uses half a bulb of FRESH garlic and two bunches of FRESH mint. And sugar to taste. My raita is famed far and wide. Not especially authentic, but loved by many. Including Indian friends.
posted by taff at 9:46 PM on August 21, 2011

Vary the things you put in raita. My father's favourite (best with biryani or a meat pilau) is with tiny cubes of potato, onion and a very flavoursome tomato. The yoghurt is thinned and flavoured only with salt and chilli.

Another great raita is baingan raita: marinate thin slices of aubergine in red chilli and salt. Fry till soft. Pour a thin yoghurt with your favourite flavourings (mint, cumin, garlic, etc, all good) into a wide flat plate/ platter. Arrange slices of aubergine on it. Sprinkle with copious amounts of red chilli, garam masala or chat masala (my favourite), or simply do a tarka with ghee and your flavourings of choice, and pour it on just before serving. This is a common dinner party raita.

Finally, make boondi raita. Go to an Indian store and get boondi: these are small puffs of chickpea flour (besan). If you have the time and can be bothered, make them yourself: a loose batter of chickpea flour with salt, red chili, cumin and whatever else you like. Allow to rest about 20 minutes then run through a sieve over a vat of boiling oil and deep fried so you get little pea sized nodules. Dry on a paper towel. Then soak most of them in water till they're soft (store bought will also need soaking). Squeeze out the water gently, and add to your favourite raita. Leave for about an hour or so so they soak in the yoghurt. Scatter on a few still crispy boondi for crunch.

As for what you can serve with raita: for a Pakistani, this is a meaningless question. You serve raita with everything. Except fish. You never serve dairy with fish.
posted by tavegyl at 3:33 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Oh and boondi raita does very well with sliced green chilis, chopped tomatoes and onions, plus mint, coriander leaves and chaat masala.
posted by tavegyl at 3:34 AM on August 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you, all!
posted by Short Attention Sp at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2011

Don't just put ground cumin in your raita. Use whole cumin seeds, freshly toasted. Toss a tablespoon or two into a hot skillet, dry, and stir rapidly until browned and fragrant.
posted by bookish at 7:44 AM on August 22, 2011

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