Mild, Creamy, & Cool
Raita, along with pickles and chutneys, is the perfect accompaniment to any meat or vegetable dish. Its cooling effect, both in temperature and mild creaminess, balances out the spices of north Indian cuisine.
North & South
The south Indian variation is called pachadi and often has coconut, fresh ginger, and curry leaves. My cooling tomato raita is a blend of northern and southern Indian recipes, and it has one of my favorite things: fresh curry leaves. If you don’t have curry leaves, a healthy sprinkling of fresh cilantro at the end makes a good substitute.
This simple side dish is quick, and you can skip the cooking step, for even quicker preparation.
See the Notes below before you cook.
Simple Tomato Raita
- 2 cups full-fat plain yogurt ~ Coconut or dairy
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ To your taste, if using Kosher salt read
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup tomato ~ Deseeded and finely chopped; see Notes below
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black or brown mustards seeds ~ Yellow can be substituted
- 5 curry leaves ~ Optional, coarsely chopped, or fold in some cilantro at the end
- 1 tablespoon onion ~ Grated
- 1 small green Indian chili ~ Minced (about 1/2 teaspoon), or subsitutions
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger ~ Grated or puréed
- 1 pinch asafetida (hing) ~ Optional
- 5 small curry leaves
- 2 tablespoons cilantro ~ Coarsely chopped
- Gather all your ingredients and prepare the tomatoes.
- Stir the yogurt briefly to smooth out and add salt and pepper.
- In a small pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves and cook for 60 seconds or more until the seeds sizzle.
- Add onion, chili, cumin, grated ginger, and asafetida, if using. Stir for 3 to 8 minutes until the mixture turns a darker shade, and you have a cooked paste. Add water if the mixture is sticking to the pan. Note: If your tomatoes are firm they will take longer to cook down.
- Cool and mix the masala into the yogurt. Chill for approximately and hour, and then taste for seasoning before serving.
- Curry leaves: Sauté 4 or 5 small curry leaves in a teaspoon of oil.
- Cilantro: Coarsely chop a couple of tablespoons of cilantro.
- If you prefer, you can keep the tomatoes raw for a little more texture and freshness. Just cook the rest of the ingredients for a couple of minutes, cool and mix into the yogurt.
- Instead of chopped tomatoes, you can use 1 cup of tomato puree, for more tomato flavor. There is no need to cook the purée but cook the rest of the ingredients as instructed in the recipe above.
- If you are going with either of the options above for tomato raita, you will still want to mix the ingredients together and chill at least an hour before serving, so that the flavors can mellow together.
- If you don't eat onion, skip it. Ideally, use the optional pinch of asafetida, which will add a similar umami taste that you get from an onion.