Raita is traditional side dish that is a must to accompany many Indian dishes. Typically raita is served with biryani, Meat Curries (e.g. chicken curry, beef curry, fish curry etc.), or Lentil Curries (e.g. chana masala, rajma, etc.). This recipe is what my mom makes at home and is simple and delicious.
The Recipe Variants
Traditional Indian Raita has a large variety of ingredients depending on personal preference and regional interest. The recipe below is a traditional raita for southern Indian cuisine, especially in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Other ingredients beyond yogurt, onion, cucumber, and tomato include carrot, mint, potato, and even spinach.
Indian raitas can even vary in consistency from very chunky versions to pureed and watery. This variation is highly dependent on local ingredient availability and histories, but also in how raita is eaten. Sometimes raita is eaten along with rice and curry, other times with lentil dosa (like a fried lentil pancake), or as sauce for kabobs.
The variation doesn’t stop there with different spice combinations adding to the mix. These can be whole spices, ground powdered spices, or even ginger, garlic, and horseradish. This means that every time you order it in a restaurant or visit a kind friend who makes it fresh, you get a glimpse of their culture.
Culture and Food
Every culture that I have witnessed uses food to express aspects of their personality and history. The Indian culture is no different, expressing traditional values with food (such as raita), but also modern and culinary creativity. As you experiment with different recipes, consider what is being “said” with this combination of ingredients and textures. It may surprise you that this becomes a hot topic of conversation at your dinner events!
- 1/2 Red Onion (169g), chopped
- 1/2 Cucumber (177g), grated
- 1 Plum Tomato (105g), chopped
- 1 Cup Yogurt (270g)
- Salt to Taste
- Cilantro for Garnish
- Combine onion, cucumber, plum tomato, and salt in a mixing bowl and mix well.
- Let vegetables sit for 5 to 10 minutes
- Add yogurt and mix well.
- Adjust salt to taste.
- Garnish with cilantro and mix well.
- Serve and enjoy!