Raita is a yogurt dish that can be found across the Indian subcontinent and anywhere else that its diasporas call home. Pointing to regional differences in Raita is hard because, to me, every family makes their raita differently. Some households eat raita with boondi, which are small, crispy balls of fried chickpea flour. Other households eat raita with pomegranate mixed in, which gives it a sweet kick.
Raita is so personal, and that’s what I love about it – you can make it sweet, tangy, spicy, sour, crispy.
With raita there are infinite possibilities, which is probably why it was such a staple in my household. Moreover, not only does yogurt contain many probiotics, but it was an incredibly easy dish for my mom to put together after coming home from her job at the high school library.
The foundation of raita consists of slightly watery, salted yogurt. Depending on what you have in your kitchen, you can top the yogurt with raw veggies, fruits, and/or a variety of spices including, but not limited to, cumin seed, hing, black pepper, and chilli powder.
Raita is so personal … you can make it sweet, tangy, spicy, sour, crispy.
Growing up, my mom would make me cucumber raita consisting of tangy, thick yogurt, a splash of water, salt, and freshly shredded cucumber. I remember coming home from school at 3:30 p.m. and seeing a bowl of cold cucumber raita sitting on the kitchen countertop with some warm rice on the side. There was nothing better than soaking the grains of basmati rice in the raita, observing the rice turn into a sort of raita sponge.
Each spoonful of my mom’s cucumber raita felt refreshing and cooling and had a calming effect on me. I would do anything to taste it again.
And while I really did love my mother’s cucumber raita, sometimes I don’t have a cucumber at home. Other times, I have a cucumber but don’t want to shred it. Shredding cucumber can be messy if you do it the way I do (with a cheese grater). Plus, you face the risk of accidentally scraping yourself.
To mitigate these risks, I have perfected my go-to variation, Sharada’s paprika raita. My version consists of four accessible ingredients: plain yogurt, water, paprika, and salt. Any kind of plain yogurt works, but I prefer Greek because it’s thick and dense, and I love how airy it gets when you whisk in some water. It tastes like a spicy, yogurt cloud when you mix in the paprika and salt.
You can eat Sharada’s paprika raita with anything — dipped with bread, tossed with greens in a salad, or even dolloped over eggs. Sometimes when I am craving something slightly smokey, but still settling on my stomach I make this and eat it on its own. It tastes beautiful this way as well.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and it becomes a staple in your home as much as it is a staple in mine. It’s so easy to make, mess free and contains accessible ingredients that, when combined, will have your mouth watering even after your very last bite.
Plain Yogurt (any kind, but I prefer Greek full fat) – 2 Cups
Water – 3 Tablespoons
Salt – to taste
Paprika – 1/2 Teaspoon
- Combine yogurt, water, salt, and paprika in a small bowl
- Mix ingredients until paprika, salt and water are fully incorporated into the yogurt
- Enjoy on anything savory
- Refrigerate – follows the same expiry date as yogurt used.
- Add in ½ a cup of shredded cucumbers or carrots
- Add 2 tablespoons of extra water (5 tablespoons total) for a more soupy texture
- Add in pomegranate seeds
- Add lemon juice and chopped cilantro to taste
Last Updated 9/11/20
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