Pachadi is the South Indian name for what we in the West know as raita. An easy, mildly spiced yogurt salad works well with almost anything you are serving. This little side dish is a nod to Kerala and the region’s threesome: mustard seeds, coconut, and curry leaves. Don’t let it stop you from making this cucumber raita if you can’t get your hands on fresh curry leaves. It will still be an appealing dish.
This recipe is from Dr. Nandita Iyer’s great vegetarian blog Saffron Trails. Dr. Iyer is also the author of “The Everyday Healthy Vegetarian,” and as a nutritionist, her recipes all have an eye to offering healthy and flavorful recipes.
By the way, if you haven’t made anything that requires you to temper spices (tadka), this is a perfect introduction. A final cooking step takes all of three minutes to start to finish; tempering is a fun and easy way to add aroma and flavor to your food. Heat some oil, add a couple of flavor elements, sauté for 30 to 60 seconds until aromatic. Then add to this Kerala cucumber raita with a grand flourish, stir, and serve with rice or any meat or vegetable stews.
If you would like to see another kind of raita, you may be interested in my tomato raita flavored with ginger and mustard seeds.
Cucumber Raita (Kerala Pachadi)
- 1 cup cucumber ~ Peeled, seeded and diced small
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ Double if using Kosher; about
- 1 to 2 small green Indian chilis ~ Minced finely, or half of a Serrano for each small chili; substitutions
- 1 tablespoon water ~ More if needed
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1/3 cup grated fresh coconut ~ Or desiccated (dry) coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds ~ Preferrabley black; more for the tadka
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil ~ Or oil of your choice
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds ~ Preferrably black
- 1 dried whole red chili
- 5 fresh curry leaves ~ Optional, but more about
- Gather all your ingredients.
- In a small pan over medium heat add the cucumber and enough water to cook it, starting with 1 tablespoon. Stir in the salt and finely diced green chili and cook until the cucumber is soft and the water is evaporated. This will take about 6 to 8 minutes
- While the cucumber is cooking, using a small blender and grind the coconut, mustard and cumin seeds into a paste using 1 tablespoon of water. Add another tablespoon only as needed to process the ingredients.
- After removing the cucumber from the heat, stir in the coconut paste so that the ground cumin and mustard seeds heat up slightly. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the yogurt and make the tadka.
- Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Test the oil with a couple of mustard seeds. When they spluttering, add the rest of the seeds and toast for 30 seconds. Add the red chili and curry leaves. Stir for another 30 seconds, then remove from the heat.
- Pour seasonings over the raita and serve.