This Easy Raita Recipe for Biryani is an easy side dish to make and is the perfect accompaniment for all Pakistani spicy food! Made with creamy yogurt, shredded cucumber, chopped red onion, cilantro leaves and some mild seasoning, the delicious side dish has a cooling effect on the palate.
What Is Raita
As epicurious.com aptly puts it "the condiment is used to cool the palate" and one can often find it on the table, especially when there is a spicy Biryani or curry as the main entrée.
Similar to Tzatziki, Raita is a slightly thinner yogurt dip that is a popular side dish in Pakistani and Indian cuisine. The perfect item to have on your table with a spicy curry or fragrant Chicken Pulao, the quick recipe makes a great dip on its own!
How To Make the Raita
This is amongst one of the most easy recipes you’re likely to come across when it comes to Pakistani and Indian recipes. All you need are some basic grocery store ingredients, a well sharpened knife and some mean chopping skills.
The main ingredient here is the fresh yogurt. Traditionally, raita is made from homemade fresh curd as it’s called back home. Since the yogurt needs to be a creamy consistency, Greek yogurt is an absolute no! The best thing is to use a cup of plain thick yogurt, I usually use plain full fat yogurt as this results in beaten yogurt that’s creamy.
If the yogurt seems too thick don’t worry. The vegetables tend to water a little bit with the addition of the salt and this makes the yogurt a little runny. In case the raita still seems too thick a little water or milk can be added to thin it out.
My recipe simply has the following ingredients:
- Black cumin seeds
- Black pepper
- Raw onions
- Pinch of salt
- Coriander leaves
I usually finely dice the onions and my preferred go to are red onions. If you prefer, you can go for sliced onions and white onions instead. On the cucumber, I peel and grate the cucumber, squeezing it once to remove some of the excess water before adding it in. You can also dice it if you prefer.
Since this is a cooling Cucumber Raita Recipe, I keep the spices mild but some optional add ins in case you want to change things up a little are:
- Mint leaves
- Chili Powder
- Green Chilies
- Chaat Masala
Other Types of Raita
This basic recipe for raita is the most popular and widely used one but there are a few other variations that are sometimes used. Some popular varieties of Raita that you may want to look up and try are:
- Boondi Raita - Boondi (small round balls made of gram flour) are added to the yogurt.
- Onion Tomato Raita Recipe
- Mint Raita Recipe
- Vegetable Raita – where boiled potatoes, tomatoes and even steamed shredded "lauki" a type of bottle gourd are at times used.
- Burani Raita –a Hyderabadi specialty with garlic cloves, cumin powder and black salt
- Onion Raita or Pyaaz ka Raita
Whichever one you choose to make; a basic raita can become anything from an easy side to a stand-alone light refreshing and cooling lunch in the summer months.
What To Eat the Raita With
As already mentioned, Raita is perfect with all Pakistani and Indian dishes, especially with Biryani Recipes
Easy Raita Recipe For Biryani
- 1 cup yogurt
- ½ cucumber
- ¼ red onion
- 2 tbsp cilantro
- 1 tsp black cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- finely chop the onion, cucumber and cilantro
- whip the yogurt lightly with a fork
- add the chopped vegetables, cumin seeds, salt and pepper
- stir and enjoy!
- english cucumbers or tiny pickling cucumbers work best. If you use a different variety then peel and deseed them.
- green chilies can be added if you like the raita spicier but I like mine cool and refreshing as biryani and most Pakistani food is spicy.