Raita is a popular side dish in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, made of curd or yoghurt. Some cuisines consider it as a form of salad or condiment. It is either sweet or savoury. It contains inclusions like vegetables or fruits. It is cold and the color of raita depends on the ingredients: white if it is plain, green if it has mint, and yellow if it has mustard paste. It has a typical spicy, yoghurt flavor.
The word raita comes from two sanskrit words, 'rajika', which means 'black mustard' and 'tiktaka' meaning 'spicy' or 'pungent'. The origin dates back to the 19th century.
Types of Raita
Mixed vegetable raita – Diced vegetables like onions, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber are added along with salt and red chilli powder.
Cucumber raita – Cucumber is grated and all the water is pressed out. This grated cucumber is added to yoghurt and seasoned with salt and red chilli. Sometimes cinnamon powder is also added.
Pineapple raita – Fresh or canned pineapple cubes are added to the yoghurt.
Pudina raita – either mint chutney is added or dried powdered pudina is added to flavor the raita
Boondi raita – Boondi raita is one of the most commonly served raitas. Fried gram flour balls are added.
Aloo raita – Boiled potatoes are added to yoghurt to make aloo raita
Baingan raita – Roasted aubergines are mashed or diced and added to the yoghurt. It is mildly spiced.
Sprouted moong raita – Green grams are sprouted and added to yoghurt.
Ingredients and Preparation
Yoghurt is the main ingredient and base for making raita. It also has fresh cut vegetables, fruits or other ingredients like boondi, which are small fried gram flour balls. The popularly used vegetables are cucumber, onions, tomatoes, carrots or beetroot. Leafy vegetables like spinach, mint or coriander are also used. Spices like roasted cumin, mustard seeds, red chilli powder, turmeric, dry mint leaves and black salt are used. Many people flavor raita with ginger, garlic, mint chutney or mustard paste.
Yoghurt is beaten to a smooth consistency. Other ingredients are added and raita is chilled in the refrigerator.
· Raita is served as an accompaniment in meals. It is a part of every North Indian meal.
· It is also served with pulav and biryani.
· Gujarati khichadi is served with raita.
· Kebabs are served with raita.
Tzatziki – Tzatziki is a greek accompaniment made of yoghurt seasoned with garlic, coriander, parsley, cucumber, olive oil and pepper. It is served cold with bread.
Cacık – Cacık is a Turkish accompaniment. It is thinner than raita.
Dips – Dips made of yoghurt are very popular with snacks and starters in America. It is thinner than spread.
Tarator – Tarator is a dip or sauce popular in Bulgaria, Iran, Greece and Turkey, similar to raita. It is made of seasoned yoghurt.
Health and Nutrition Facts
Serving size – 1 bowl
Calories – 100 cal, Fat – 2 g, Protein – 5 g, Carbohydrates – 10 g
· Raita is low in calories and fat.
· It is a good source of protein and calcium. Proteins are the building blocks of the body and calcium helps to strengthen the bones and teeth.
· It is very easy to digest and it also improves the digestive system.
· It helps to boost the immunity and enhances the body’s natural defence mechanism.
· The body is relieved of ulcers and gastro intestinal disorders.
· It is even safe for people suffering from lactose intolerance as the lactose in the milk is converted to lactic acid.
· Yoghurt improves the bio-availability of other nutrients like vitamin B12.
· It decreases chances of infections and viral attacks.
· Studies show that consumption of yoghurt based foods reduces the bad cholesterol in the body.
· Other ingredients like fresh vegetables and fruit are a rich source of vitamin C and B complex. They act as antioxidants and help prevent the body from free radical damage and diseases like cancer.
· They serve as a cooling food and help to cool the body.
· AMUL manufactures a cumin-seasoned raita commercially.
· Raita is available in most of the North Indian restaurants. It forms an integral part of Indian meals.
· Raita should be made fresh and eaten the same day. It has the tendency to become sour if stored for very long.