This is the raita that I recently served with the basic yellow split pea dal and with other dishes for a wonderful Indian meal. You may be familiar with raita that features cucumber but give this one a try. It’s lovely in many ways and despite the various levels of heat from the ginger and chiles, the flavors are mellow.
This raita recipe comes from my friend, Niloufer King, the award-winning author of My Bombay Kitchen. When I watched her make this amazing yogurt mixture, I could not believe the amount of ginger that she used. Raw ginger flavors the yogurt but the star is the seared shreds of ginger, which contribute a sweet heat and wonderful texture to the yogurt.
As soon as I tasted the raita, I wanted to make it myself. It instantly became a regular in my kitchen. I hope it becomes one in yours too!
Seared Ginger Raita
One branch of curry leaf can have a bunch of leaves. My branch below had around 18 small to medium ones. If you are working with large curry leaves, use about 10 of them. You can't really over do it so go wild.
Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, any level of fat
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
2 fresh red or green Thai chiles, slit to the stem
Leaves from 1 branch of curry leaves, wiped dry
1/4 cup finely julienned fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1. Put the yogurt into a large measuring cup or bowl and whisk it a few times to break it up. Add the chopped ginger and salt to taste. If the yogurt is super thick, add water by the tablespoon. Keep the yoghurt by the stove along with the remaining ingredients, except the cilantro which you’ll add later.
2. In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chiles and let them sizzle for a minute, until aromatic. Toss in the curry leaves and when they begin to darken and change color, add the julienned ginger.
Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, until the ginger starts turning brown and caramelizing. Now add the mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds pop, pour all of the ingredients into the yogurt. Stir to combine well and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes to develop the flavors. The yogurt will take on some of the gingery goodness.
This raita is terrific made hours in advance. When I’m entertaining, I make it the day before and return it to room temperature before serving. Garnish with the cilantro before serving.