Raita is a cool, creamy condiment that is a must next to spicy Indian recipes. Yogurt and cucumber soothe the palate and stand up to the spicier dishes. The meal will feel more whole when you add this to the party.
I love the hint of mint (rhyme intended), with the yogurt in this raita recipe. I would not make the sauce without the mint, because it has this fresh, sweet taste that we want. And if you need further convincing, it has many health benefits as well.
It can help digestion, which is probably also why it works so great with spicy food... Mint may also treat headaches and nausea, reduce fatigue and help with weight loss. I mean, heaven in a piece of a plant right there.
What is the difference between tzatziki and raita?
Raita and tzatziki are both delicious yogurt-cucumber dips, but there are some differences. Raita usually uses a thinner, salted yogurt, while tzatziki has a thick Greek yogurt base. I still prefer using a thicker yogurt in my raita, to keep its shape, but if you want to go more authentic, use a thinner yogurt.
Tzatziki also has a lot of lemon juice, making it tangier. Tzatziki usually has dill as its herb of choice (sauces can have opinions, right?), while raita usually uses mint and/or cilantro.
Both pair well with heavily spiced, toasted, and grilled foods and can be served as either a dip or condiment. And in my opinion, a dip should be a little chunky, like my delicious chunky guacamole too.
The most common ingredients in raita are plain yogurt, fresh mint, and grated cucumber. There are tons of varieties of raita, but in the Western world, the cucumber raita is the most common. This raita is mega delicious and so simple to put together in about 5-10 minutes:
- Plain Yoghurt: I like to use Greek or Turkish yogurt as it becomes more of a dip, you can use regular plain yogurt, but the raita will be saucier.
- Fresh mint: tons and tons of it, because mint is life.
- Cucumber: grate the cucumber, next to the sink as this can get messy. Press it into a ball over the sink to make it dry, this way the raita won't get watery.
- Red onion: Finely chopped. This is optional, but really delicious. You can also use chives or any other onion.
- Cumin: A little bit of spice for added interest and flavorrrr.
- Salt and pepper: To finish it off!
That's it. I like to keep it plain and easy, as this is supposed to just cool the palate while eating other spicier and more flavorful food.
What to serve with raita?
Raita is most common to eat next to Indian or Pakistani food. So naturally, all my Indian inspired recipes will work great with this raita recipe. Indian style kebabs, ginger coconut lentil curry and Indian jeera rice are the most obvious choices.
However, don't let anyone tell you you can't eat raita with any kind of spicy food that isn't Indian. Why not add a dollop to this spicy harissa grilled chicken, Korean beef bulgogi, quinoa tabbouleh or to this healthy pasta salad?
And some recipes from other bloggers: chana masala from Hint of Healthy, dal methi paratha flatbread from Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey, cabbage biryani from My Cooking Journey, alo gobi masala from Masala Herb and let's not forget the tikka masala from In Fine Taste.
How to make it
It's also a very easy condiment to throw together, no more than five minutes. You need to grate your cucumber, and when you've done that, take the cucumber over to the sink*, and press out as much water as you can. You don't want the raita to be watery and soggy.
Next, chop the mint leaves and onion finely. I don't like it when the onion sticks out too much because this is a condiment that is supposed to be mild and soothing.
You can omit the onion (or use another type of onion) if you want, but I like the body it gives to the raita. I suggest you give it a go and adjust the next time!
Add all the ingredients into a bowl, taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, or more cumin if you like.
Store, covered in the fridge, for about 3 days.
Happy Indian Night!
Did you like this recipe? Here are more sauces I think you'll like:
- Fresh and Spicy Guacamole
- Homemade Mayonnaise and Aïoli
- Tzatziki (+ a mega delish halloumi salad!)
- Avocado herb dressing (+ a super yum Mexican salad)
- Honey Mustard Dressing (+ a fresh chicken citrus salad)
- Garlic Cream Cheese Dip (+ rosemary fries)
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later! To make sure you’re never missing another recipe, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thanks you will receive a free e-cookbook Travels Through the Seasons, with many delicious recipes from around the world that suit different seasons of the year.
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This recipe was originally published on Oct 2nd, 2017, but updated on Apr 15th, 2020 for better photos and content.