When food is too hot and spicy, what do you do? Lots of people grab the nearest glass of water, and all that does is spread the heat molecules around your tongue, even faster than they were moving before. If you need to soothe your burning mouth, go for something milky. Raita is a sophisticated savoury yogurt based mouth cooler which goes well as a small sidedish.
The first time I tasted a savoury yogurt dish, I was startled, and didn't like it. If you're not used to this type of dish, it does take a bit of time to develop a taste for it. Which is why I also served a sweet beverage that does the same trick, but more about that in an other posting.
Now I like raita in larger amounts at breakfast and lunch, but this recipe makes just a little. Enough for four ladies celebrating a birthday, who generally like just a little raita to douse the flames. Four very sophisticated ladies, I might add.
I was already caramelising these items, so reserving a smidge for the raita was super easy. I’m giving the amounts here as though you’re only making raita, but if you need these items for another dish, just go ahead and pinch these ingredients (once cooked) for your raita.
|I stole my ingredients from the paratha stuffing that I had just begun.|
1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter—available inexpensively in Indian grocery aisles)
¼ teaspoon cumin seed
6 curry leaves
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
1 cup chilled plain yogurt
garnish (chopped chives and flowers, paprika, black sesame seed, mint leaves, whatever’s pretty in a savoury way)
Heat the ghee on medium high heat in a saucepan, and add cumin seed. It should splutter and pale in colour. Add the curry leaves, and reduce heat to medium. Add the minced onion, stir and cook till the onion turns transparent, soft and golden at the edges. Cool till lukewarm.
Stir into plain yogurt. I garnished mine with a sprinkling of smoked paprika and spinach leaves. If I’d had the time, I would have used chives and their flowers too.
This buttery and savoury raita will cool an enflamed mouth, and add a nice chilly contrast to whatever was way too hot! Next up will be that sweet mouth cooling drink. Children adore that one most, although we four sophisticated types liked it too.