Raitas – yoghurt salads

Raitas consist of vegetables (cooked or uncooked) that are added to yoghurt and flavored with seeds, un-cooked lentils, leaves and spices . Raitas are nearly always served as part of an Indian meal as they add a cooling effect if the food is very spicy.

Aubergine raita:
Cut a medium sized aubergine into very tiny pieces and put in a colander with salt and let it drain for about 15-13 minutes. Pat dry on kitchen paper or squeeze out all the water just before frying. Heat oil, add as many aubergine pieces as you can to the pan and when brown remove and drain on kitchen paper. The aubergine pieces should be as crisp as possible when put in a bowl of yoghurt. Add a sprinkling of chili, turmeric powders and salt (if required as the aubergine has been salted) and sprinkle with fresh coriander.

Ladies finger of okra raita:
The okra should always be dry after it is washed otherwise it will get sticky when fried. Cut off tails and tops of okra and cut into smallish pieces. Heat oil and fry okra till crisp and slightly brown. Drain on kitchen paper and put in a bowl of yoghurt (to which you have added salt to taste) with spices and fresh coriander as given above for aubergine raita.

Potato raita:
Boil and dice potatoes into small pieces. Fry lightly in oil and then add to a bowl of salted yoghurt with turmeric and a sprinkling of chili powder. You can also fry 1 tsp of mustard seeds and some curry leaves and pour this into the yoghurt mixture.

Spinach raita:
Steam spinach in a steamer and leave to drain till cool and try to squeeze out all the water. In the meantime, mix yoghurt, with some salt, pepper, if you wish and some dried of fresh dill. You can also add a bit of garlic lightly crushed.

For uncooked vegetables like cucumber, carrot, tomato etc. heat oil in a small pan and when hot add 1 tsp mustard of cumin seeds, 1 tsp urad dhal (small white lentil) and some curry leaves. Add this mixture to the yoghurt (salted to taste) with the uncooked vegetables. Sprinkle with fresh coriander. You can also sprinkle turmeric and red chili powder (not too much depending on how hot you like it).