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Raita is a classic Indian salad and/or side dish fundamentally consisting of yogurt and cucumber, plus one or both of mint and garlic. (Mint is more authentic, but most people are more likely to have a clove of garlic than a bush of mint sitting around.) Some people add a dash of vinegar or lemon juice, or a pinch of cumin, basil, dill... but as long as it's got yogurt and cucumber, raita is absolutely ideal for rescueing your taste buds after an assault by the Fiery Curry of Doom. Recipes abound, but here's mine (with a tip of the hat to Mom):



  1. Peel and shred the cucumber. (You can seed it if you feel like it, I usually don't bother.)
  2. Stir in the pinch of salt. Drain out the extra cucumber juice by letting it sit in a sieve for 30 minutes or by squeezing the mass gently with your hands (much more fun!). Pat dry if you're a perfectionist.
  3. Crush the garlic and/or mince the mint. Blend everything in a big bowl.
  4. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  5. Enjoy. Keeps for about one day in the fridge.

Most cookbooks think one cucumber's worth of raita should serve 4. Even when eating alone, I usually find myself scooping the last bits from the empty bowl and wishing I'd made more.

Debugging tips

If the bottom of your raita bowl has a layer of water at the end of the hour, you're not extracting enough cucumber juice. Better luck next time.

If the raita is more like a sauce than a salad, your yogurt may be too runny, or you may be using too much. Stick with high-fat, chunky stuff, Valio's Bulgarian Yogurt here in Finland is ideal. You can also put the yogurt in a small sieve covered with a paper towel or two to drain off extra liquid.

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