This is the best dish to reset your tastebuds after a chilli assault. The coolness of the cucumber and yoghurt, with a touch of sweetness, makes this the perfect accompaniment for hot food. I cannot recall a family dinner where this kheere ka raita was not served.
There are two schools of opinion on the making of raita. They are the graters and the choppers. We belong to the chopper group because we like the texture and appearance it gives. Grating the cucumber is fine, but you will need to squeeze some of the excess moisture from the grated cucumber, a step that is not needed if you use the chopping method. Regardless of the method, you should still de-seed the cucumber as described. If grating, you should probably fully peel the cucumber – in the chopped version it adds a little colour to the dish but that doesn’t work so well if grating.
Using the cucumber seed juice seems a small step but does add noticeably to the flavour.
Raita, and its south Indian relative pachardi is a very common side dish at almost everything from simple family meals through to festive occasions. There are many variations on this dish, and almost any vegetable can be used. Some better suit grating rather than chopping. A particular favourite of ours is to substitute a green apple – say a Granny Smith – for the cucumber, although you may need to adjust the sweetness.
The recipe below will make around 300g of raita, which will adequately serve 4 people as an accompaniment.
- Wash, then part-peel the cucumber, leaving some stripes of peel along its length. Halve the cucumber lengthwise, and using a teaspoon, scrape out the seeds and pulp. Set pulp aside. Now cut the cucumber halves lengthwise into thin batons, then cross chop these into small cubes. Place into a bowl.
- Add salt, jaggery, mint and coriander leaves and cumin seeds to cucumber and toss well.
- Using a sieve and a spoon, extract the juice from the cucumber pulp, and pour over the cucumber.
- Add yoghurt to cucumber and stir well. Cover, and refrigerate for one hour or until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle with garam masala and garnish with the coriander and mint leaves.
- Allow one hour for chilling before serving.