Monday, August 26, 2013

Curryleaf Raita (Savory Indian Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce)

Curry leaf
Curry Leaves (Flickr photo by Sue Mah)
Raita is a creamy yogurt & cucumber sauce typically seasoned with fresh mint and sometimes a little cumin or other similar spice. It's commonly served in Indian restaurants and helps cool the mouth when eating spicy Indian food.

My original plan was to make a traditional Indian raita to serve as a condiment with several Indian dishes Greg and I were planning for dinner. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any fresh mint at any of my local grocery stores. To my surprise, however, Whole Foods did have fresh curry leaves, which previously I had only used in dried form.

Having already assembled all the other ingredients for raita, I decided to use the fresh curry leaves in place of the traditional chopped fresh mint. Because curry leaves have a complex, more savory flavor than mint, which has a brighter and sweeter flavor, I did not use as much curry leaf as I would have used mint in a traditional recipe. Instead I used just the 5 or 6 sprigs in the small package and also reduced the amount of salt normally used in raita. If you try this recipe for curry leaf raita, you should taste it before chilling so that you can adjust the seasonings: Add more salt, spices or chopped curryleaf for a more intense flavor, or stir in a little more plain yogurt if the seasonings are too strong.

2 cups plain yogurt (I use nonfat Greek yogurt)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded & shredded
approx. 1/2 to 1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh curry leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seed
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground red chili pepper or cayenne pepper
Optional garnish: A few whole curry leaves or 1 sprig of curry leaves

Toast the cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan over medium-high heat until fragrant and they start to turn gray. Remove immediately from heat and transfer to a spice grinder or mortar & pestle, then grind to desired texture.

Whisk the yogurt and seasonings in a bowl until creamy, then fold in the cucumber and curry leaves. Taste for balance, adjust as desired, then cover and refrigerate for about an hour to let flavors meld. Stir before serving and garnish with curry leaves if desired. Makes approx. 6 servings.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

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