Cucumber Raita is a variation of a popular Indian yogurt dip called Raita. It can be used as a dip with Pita bread/Chips or as an accompaniment to popular Indian main dishes like Biryani, Chicken Tikka Masala , Tandoori Chicken etc., as well as everyday Indian food. It is made by mixing together freshly chopped cucumber (without seeds), cilantro and/or mint, yogurt, salt, an Indian spice blend called Chaat Masala and roasted ground cumin. Chaat masala is a spice blend that adds a zing, which compliments the cool yogurt. Roasted cumin on the other hand, adds a wonderful earthiness and a sweet aroma to the dip. That’s all there is to it. Depending on the tanginess of the yogurt, one can add a pinch of sugar too. Sometimes I add a pinch of cayenne or paprika to it to give it a kick. I like using Pickling cucumbers or Persian cucumbers for this recipe because of two reasons. They are almost seedless, so I don’t have to remove the seeds, nor do I have to peel them, plus they are typically more crunchy in taste, which adds a great contrast to the creaminess of the yogurt.
Yogurt is a staple in daily diets of many Indians, either in the form of a buttermilk, a variation of Raita, or plain old yogurt! It balances the heat and warmth of the Indian spices and in summer months, helps deal with the heat. In Punjabi cuisine, plain yogurt is an integral part of a traditional breakfast of stuffed whole-wheat flatbreads- Paranthas.
Cucumber Raita always brings back sweet memories for me. When I was a kid, whenever my family would go out to dine at an Indian restaurant, my parents would order a variety of meat and vegetarian dishes, and, Cucumber Raita & Naan for my sister, who was a toddler then. She lived on that combo for a long time. So much so, that most of our frequently visited restaurants would know that no matter what we ordered, it had to come with a Cucumber Raita and Naan combo for my sister! Now when I see both my children equally fond of that combo, I feel life has come a full circle…. and that they both inherited her picky genes :-).
Here’s how easy it is to put this dip together:
Cucumber Raita- Cucumber Yogurt DipPrint Recipe
Prepare the cucumbers- if using regular cucumbers, peel and cut them in half. Using a teaspoon, remove the seeds from the core and chop it fine. If using English, Persian or Pickling cucumbers, chop them fine.
Assemble all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix with a spatula. Garnish with mint. Serve as a side accompaniment to Indian entrees or as a dip for Pita chips.