I was reading a book, completely engrossed with the dilemmas of the characters, and with withholded breath I was waiting for the further development of the plot. I even, without much problems, accepted the fact that the author loves complete each chapter with descriptions of the meal. And, as the heroes of the novel are wandering jugglers and they roam the whole world, not just Europe, then these meals tend to be rather exotic.
So I was absorbed with the words and I was savoring the descriptions of feasts and almost feeling the smell of kabobs cooked in a fire, when suddenly one of the heroes faced a difficult choice. Hummus or raita?
But, but! Uncle Internet, what a “raita” is?
A few minutes later, I knew for sure that raita will became permament add to my menu. Because raita is richer, fuller and more exotic foster sister to a tzatziki. And , as tzatziki, raita is prepared with one vegetable. However, the choice of vegetables (and fruits!) from which we can make raita is… wide.
So we can make cucumber, pumpkin, potato, spinach, carrot raita. But also melon, pineapple, banana raita. I also saw (and is on the “to do” list) mint and peanuts raita.
The base is a thick yogurt or sour milk. Due to the manner of preparing (raita should have the consistency of whipped cream) I suggest to use the Greek or Balkan yogurt.
Spices are also clear: roasted cumin powder – we can prepare it in two ways:
1 Roast cumin, then grind;
2 grind cumin and then roast.
I know that is nothing original, but… the second method, however, require better control over the pan (as powder has tendency to becoming smoke 🙂 ), but spice is more aromatic with a fuller flavor.
And rest of spices are: mustard seeds, sweet paprika or cayenne pepper, fresh mint or coriander.
Raita, as it soothes irritated tongue, is given as a side dish to spicy food type of kabob, pilaf or biryani. We can use it as side dish with any grilled meal or roasted meat.
Well, it is better than boring tzatziki . 🙂
bunch of swiss chard (with beets)
500 ml of Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 fresh green pepper
0.5 teaspoons of honey or dark sugar
0.5 tsp toasted ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
half a bunch of fresh mint or coriander
- Cut beets from stalks and put into hot water and cook for about 30 minutes. Then pour cold water and leave for 5 – 10 minutes. When the water will take heat from the cooked beetroot, gently scrape the skin – it goes away under pressure. Remember about the gloves! Grate beets on a grater.
- Red beetroot stems put into boiling water and leave for 30 minutes, you don’t need to cook it, just leave stalks in hot water. Then, drain the water and cut the stems to 1 – 1.5 cm pieces.
- Wash leaves of chard and cut into strips. About 1 – 1.5 cm.
- Clean green chilli, remove the seeds and chop very finely.
- Add paprika/cayenne pepper, salt, honey/sugar, ground cumin into yogurt. Whisk until it will have consistency of the whipped cream.
- Add the grated beets, cut stalks, chopped chilli and very gently combine with the yogurt.
- Add about half of the leaves of beetroot and again stir gently.
- Put raita in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Once removed from the refrigerator, add the rest of the leaves of beetroot. Mix. Your raita is ready to serve.
I served my swiss chard raita with naan breads (which will appear on the blog as soon as I can photograph them before they disappear) and fish fingers – cod in coconut-sesame batter by Danusia (click!).