Indian food isn't known for being mild, but for some, the heat can simply be too much. Enter the raita, the Indian condiment that's made with dahi, or curd, which is better known as yogurt in the Western hemisphere. When chilled, the yogurt base of raita tempers some of the heat of India's most famous entrees without dulling the vibrant flavors. Do yourself a favor and serve your raita with a fruit-based chutney and/or pickled vegetables for a full flavor experience.
When you're making up your own version of a raita—easy to do, given all the options of vegetables, pulses, or fruits that could make up the dip—stick with a 2:1 ratio; that is, 2 cups of yogurt per 1 cup of other ingredients.
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If you're wondering how to use up all that mint that's grown like crazy in your garden, here's an idea for you: Chop it into a raita. It's a fairly traditional thing to do, but don't be ashamed if it never crossed your mind to mix the herb with yogurt rather than into a cocktail.
This cool—in every sense of the word—raita that's herbed with fresh mint goes with all sorts of dishes. However, it's particularly tasty alongside stuffed Parathas (flatbread), as well as Biryanis and Pulaos (rice dishes).
02 of 05
Whether it's a side dish or a vegetarian entree, this chickpea-and-yogurt dish is intriguing because it's a little out of the norm. If you're needing something quick for lunch, you can use canned chickpeas or those you've prepared in advance. If you have time to prep dried chickpeas—perhaps using a pressure cooker to make quick work of it—then it's all the better.
03 of 05
If you're craving guacamole but not in the mood for Mexican, avocado raita is right up your alley. It's the Indian version of guacamole and could be the starting point for a fusion sort of meal. Serve it with toasted naan instead of tortilla chips, and add a tomato-based salsa that's spiced with coriander, cumin, and cardamom instead of cilantro, chili powder, and lime juice.
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Raitas can be incredibly simple dishes, but Indian cuisine is so often generously spiced that it only makes sense to add a magnitude of flavor via some aromatic ingredients.
In this raita, mild spinach is combined with not-at-all-mild ginger, green chiles, cumin, garlic, and red chili. If you're worried about the heat, add the red chilis in small increments, tasting as you go. You might find that the cool yogurt tamps down on the fire.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
There's something about charred eggplant that takes this particular raita to the next level. It's almost a combination of baba ganoush, the Middle Eastern spread, and Indian raita, and it works in so many ways: as a dip with pita chips, over some simple basmati rice, or as a topping for any form of spicy and hot meat entree.