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What Is Raita?
Raita is a traditional yogurt-based condiment from India. Salted yogurt (dahi) is mixed with herbs and spices, like cumin. Different varieties of raita incorporate fruit or vegetables (raw or cooked). Raita is served cold and is often paired with spicy foods to counterbalance the mouth-tingling heat. Raita is sometimes served after a meal to aid in digestion, thanks to the gut-friendly bacteria in yogurt.
Raita vs. Tzatziki
Raita is often compared, and confused with, tzatziki because both are side dishes that have a yogurt base. Here are some basic differences between the two:
- Raita is a side dish from India while tzatziki is a Greek sauce. Both are eaten as dips or as an accompaniment to a main dish.
- Their consistencies are different. Raita is made with plain yogurt and tzatziki is made with thicker Greek yogurt. Raita is thinner while tzatziki has a thick consistency.
- They’re used in different ways. Raita is a more versatile dish with many different recipes. Tzatziki is most often a mixture of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, kosher salt, oil, and lemon juice.
What Are the Ingredients in Raita?
Raita is a gluten-free food made with the following basic ingredients:
- Greek yogurt
- Cucumber, grated or finely chopped
- Lemon juice
This basic recipe is often adjusted based on personal taste. Other popular flavor additives include fresh cilantro, fresh mint leaves, chaat masala (an Indian spice blend), coriander, green onions, and mustard seeds. Sometimes cayenne, chili powder, serrano pepper or green chillies are mixed into raita to create contrasting flavors within the dish itself.
3 Different Types of Raita
Raita varies throughout the regions of India. It is often mixed with veggies or fruits, like pineapple and pomegranate. Three of the most popular types are:
- Cucumber raita: Greek yogurt is mixed with cumin, peeled and grated cucumber, and fresh mint.
- Mint raita: Packed mint leaves are blended with a green chili until finely chopped. They’re mixed with yogurt, salt to taste, and a sprinkle of sugar.
- Boondi raita: Boondi are little balls of fried chickpea flour. They’re mixed with the yogurt with salt and chaat masala.
Easy Cucumber Raita Recipe
Total Time15 min
To make raita, all you need is one bowl. It’s one of the simplest Indian recipes with no cooking involved.
- 3 cups plain yogurt (full fat works best, but low-fat is fine—the texture will just be runnier)
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and either grated or small-diced
- Juice of one lemon, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh mint leaves, optional
- Add all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir well to combine.
- Adjust seasoning as necessary.
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