It was halfway through the main course of spice crusted pork (recipe to come this week) last night during a dinner party at our house when my friend Amy said "This is delicious, but I wish I had some raita." I instantly had that "oh shit" moment and ran to the fridge to grab the bowl of raita I had made with such anticipation earlier in the day and completely forgot to bring to the table. Better late than never I suppose.
Raita. As ketchup is to Americans, chismol to Hondurans, and ajvar to those of the Balkan persuasion, raita is the yogurt-based accompaniment that millions of Indian families will not go without. As Vikram Vij says in his "Vij's Cookbook", where this recipe come from: "With the exception of coconut curries, it's hard to think of any Indian dish with which we would not eat raita." And no wonder. With its subtly complex flavor and cool, creamy texture, it's the perfect foil to the pungently spicy dishes of India. Vij says they also at times eat it on its own as a soup. Ridiculously easy to make, this is a must at your next sub-continental soirée!
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from the Vij's Cookbook
2 cups plain yogurt
1 medium to large cucumber, peeled or unpeeled (do not use bitter cucumbers or the long English cucumber. If you want to add color to this dish, don't peel the cucumber. Make sure the peel is not bitter)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup milk (optional, use if raita appears too thick)
Place yogurt in bowl. Using a hand grater, grate cucumber and all of its water into the yogurt. Stirl well to combine. Add salt, garam masala, and pepper, and mix well.