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When the hot and humid summer months hit Mumbai, “chaas” and “raitas” become lunchtime staples. The former is a buttermilk based savory drink and the latter is a condiment made with yogurt and raw or cooked vegetables. These are always on the menu when you go to Indian restaurants, and they’re extremely popular since they’re a cool break from all those spicy curries. You’ll be surprised to learn how easy these are to make and how few ingredients they require!
It’s important to pull out excess water from the cucumber because you want the consistency to be on the thicker side. This is easily done over a fine mesh strainer or you could even use a kitchen towel to wring it out if needed. The final step is the “tadka” which really takes this to the next level. Tadka is when you temper spices and herbs in oil or ghee, allowing them to release all their flavors. Here, I am using three really aromatic ingredients. Curry leaves lend a lemony, pine, and citrusy aroma, mustard seeds add a zingy punch and a pinch of asafoetida (a tree gum with digestive properties that should be available at your local ethnic grocery store) offers a pungent, oniony flavor. You have to temper it in fat and cannot just sprinkle it over dishes because the flavor is too potent. As soon as the mustard seeds and curry leaves begin to crackle, pour this over the dip. I like to serve it with a crudite platter including fresh little gem lettuce and radishes, but you can use it as a spread on wraps and sandwiches. The possibilities are really endless!
Tangy and fresh, this Cucumber Raita Dip with Mustard and Curry Leaf Tadka is the perfect way to summer with your favorite veggies!
Recipe and Headnote Rachel Gurjar
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 medium cucumber, ends trimmed, grated (about 2 cups grated)
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- a pinch of asafoetida
- 1 teaspoon musard seeds
- 10 curry leaves
Add yogurt, grated ginger, lemon juice and salt to a large bowl.
Place the cucumber flesh in a fine mesh strainer. Using a spoon, press on the cucumber flesh to extract as much liquid as possible.
Add drained cucumbers to the yogurt, and mix until everything is well incorporated.
Heat ghee in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add asafoetida, mustard seeds and curry leaves and let them crackle, about 10 seconds. Remove from heat and pour over dip. Serve immediately.