the following are some of my favourites condiments.
for those of you who are unfamiliar with this fare, a raita (rah-ee-ta) is a simple spiced yogourt condiment made with either a chopped or grated vegetable such as cucumber, tomato or carrot and eaten at an indian meal. it is said to soothe the palate due to the cooling nature of the yogourt.
the carrot raita and the coriander and mint chutney are my own renditions. the cucumber raita is from world vegetarian by madhur jaffrey.
make sure to use the brown mustard seeds available from an indian or middle eastern shop. they make all the difference and give a pronounced nutty flavour.
a few tablespoons of ground peanuts may be added to these condiments to thicken them if they are too thin or if you just like that flavour.
a simple coriander & mint chutney
1 bunch coriander, cleaned
1/2 bunch mint, cleaned
1 big clove garlic
1 small chunk of ginger
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded
1 - 2 green chilis, seeded
1/2 c water
1 tsp salt
2 - 2 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 tsp hot chilli powder [omit if using green chilis]
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cumin powder
clean the mint and coriander and remove leaves. some soft stems on coriander is fine. peel the garlic and ginger and cut in pieces. clean the green chili(s).
in a blender or food processor, mince the garlic, ginger, green chili(s) and bell pepper. add the water and the mint and coriander and blend well. once well blended, add the final ingredients.
taste. adjust flavourings.
carrot and coriander raita
the combination of grated carrot, roasted cumin seeds, and nutty brown mustard seeds suspended in cool yogourt is a perfection combination. it is both sweet and tangy. try it and you won't be disappointed. the addition of a tablespoon or two of ground peanuts would go really well here, too.
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 3/4 to 2 c yogourt
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp sugar
2 - 3 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp peanut [or vegetable] oil
3/4 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole cumin
1/4 tsp red chili flakes, or more
grate carrot. add salt, sugar, coriander and carrot to the yogourt. mix well and set aside.
in a small pot with a lid, heat the oil until it is hot. add the mustard seeds, the cumin and the chili flakes and partially cover the pot. when the mustard seeds stop popping remove from heat and carefully add to the yogourt mixture. mix well. refrigerate and serve.
cooking the spices in the oil (or ghee) is called a chaunk [or tarka or baghar]. it must not be done over high heat or you will end up burning your spices. if that happens, throw it out when it has cooled and start again at a lower heat. the spices however will darken somewhat.
gujurati cucumber raita
as per madhur jaffrey
1 c yogurt
1 seedless medium cucumber, grated and squeezed dry
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 - 1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
exactly the same as for carrot raita.