Raita is the combination of vegetables and yogurt. It is a popular and tasty complementary dish or vegetable side dish in Indian cuisine. It makes the meal more palatable and adds healthy aspects to the dish. Keep reading to learn about raita, raita recipes and raita pronunciation. For sure there’s a raita recipe for you.
Raita is an easy way to incorporate vegetables and yogurt into your everyday diet. It helps in the digestive process and is an ideal low-calorie dish. Raita can be made with a combination of many seasonal vegetables.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this article.
A Brief History Of Fermented Milk Products
Ayurvedic Properties Of Yogurt
Making Homemade Yogurt
The Best Time To Consume Yogurt
Who Should Avoid Yogurt
Easy Raita Recipes
Raita is pronounced like rahy-tuh. It is a Hindi word that first appeared in print around the 19th century.1
The word raita in Bengali language and Hindi-Urdu is a derivative of two Sanskrit words, rajika, meaning black mustard, and tiktaka, meaning sharp or pungent.2 In the South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, raita is called pachadi. Raita is also sometimes simply called dahi, or “sourmilk”, after its main ingredient.
It is believed that milk products were incorporated into the human diet around 10,000–5000 BC, with the domestication of milk-producing animals (cows, sheep, and goats, as well as yaks, horses, buffalo, and camels).3 However milk spoiled easily making it difficult to use. At that time, herdsmen in the Middle East carried milk in bags made of intestinal gut. It was discovered that contact with intestinal juices caused the milk to curdle and sour, preserving it and allowing for conservation of a dairy product for extended periods of time.
Indian Ayurvedic scripts, dating from about 6000 BC, refer to the health benefits of consuming fermented milk products.1 Today, there are more than 700 yogurt and cheese products found in Indian cuisine. For millennia, making yogurt was the only known safe method for preserving milk, other than drying it. Yogurt was well known in the Greek and Roman empires, and the Greeks were the first to mention it in written references in 100 BC, noting the use of yogurt by barbarous nations. In the Bible (Book of Job), Abraham owed his longevity and fecundity to yogurt consumption, and there is reference to the “Land of Milk and Honey”, which many historians have interpreted to be a reference to yogurt.4
According to Ayurveda, yogurt is heavy to digest, sweet in taste, hot and sour in quality. It increases fat or causes weight gain, gives strength, increases Pitta dosha and helps to boost the digestive fire.
To make yogurt, you need to start with a yogurt starter. Yogurt starter contains live bacteria colonies. Boil a cup of milk (whole fat milk works the best). Let the milk cool down a bit. When the milk is lukewarm, add one teaspoonful of starter and give it a whisk. Keep the milk in a warm and dark place where it will not be disturbed or touched.
The next morning, a fresh batch of yogurt is ready to eat. Save some of that yogurt as a starter for making a new batch of yogurt. Yogurt can also be made in the Insta Pot. That method works well too. Freshly made yogurt every day is the most beneficial for your health according to Ayurveda.
The best time to consume yogurt is in the middle of the day when you are having your largest meal of the day. Consuming yogurt is best suited to the body if it’s in combination with one of the following: moong dal lentil soup, honey, ghee or sugar.
According to Ayurveda, yogurt should never be consumed after sunset or in the nighttime. It increases the Kapha dosha if consumed at night. Yogurt should not be consumed on a daily basis. If the yogurt is not fermented properly or is in the process of fermentation and incomplete, it is harmful to consume it in that state.
People with skin conditions, cough, cold or fever should limit their intake of yogurt.
In summertime when beetroots are in season make a beetroot raita. Beetroots have some amazing health benefits. They are good for people with Kapha and Vata constitution (prakriti) if consumed on a regular basis.
Beets are Pitta provoking if consumed raw specially in the Pitta season of summer. It is best to consume beets either steamed or cooked as they become easy to digest and dosha balancing. Enjoy this easy to make, tasty and healthy beetroot raita recipe!
1 medium raw beet
1 tablespoon of yogurt
1 teaspoon white sugar
Himalayan pink salt, to taste
1 teaspoon of ghee
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
2-3 curry leaves
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
Enjoy the beetroot raita with your meals. You can also garnish the raita with some freshly chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) or fresh mint leaves.
READ MORE: Anti-Inflammatory Beetroot Soup
Pumpkin raita is easy to make and delicious to eat. Try this age-old Pumpkin raita recipe, perfect for fall.
Medium piece of pumpkin chopped into pieces
2 cups of water
1 cup of yogurt
Himalayan pink salt, to taste
Freshly chopped cilantro or mint leaves
Roasted and ground cumin seeds
2-3 curry leaves
4-5 fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon of asafoetida
2 teaspoons ghee
Garnish with some fresh coriander leaves and enjoy with your meal! Enjoy these easy raita recipes. Leave your questions and comments below.
READ MORE: Pumpkin Lentil Curry (Pumpkin Moong Dal)
According to Ayurveda, bottle gourd is sweet in taste, cooling in quality and is good for balancing Pitta and Vata doshas. It is heavy on digestion. It is a cardiac tonic, adds flavor (palatable), provides nutrition and strength to the tissues and dhatus. This recipe is best enjoyed in summer.
Here’s an easy to make, healthy and tasty raita recipe with a delicious, cooling vegetable.
1/2 cup green bottle gourd (washed, peeled and grated)
1/2 cup water
1 cup yogurt (plain)
2 teaspoons of ghee
½ teaspoon of black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon of cumin seeds
2-3 curry leaves (optional)
pinch of asafoetida
Himalayan salt, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
½ teaspoon of roasted peanut powder (roast raw whole peanuts in a skillet for 10-15 minutes and grind them in a blender to a medium fine powder)
fresh cilantro (coriander leaf) chopped for garnishing
Boil the water in a pot and add the grated bottle gourd with a pinch of salt. After about 10-15 minutes, strain the water into a cup and keep it aside. Once the bottle gourd has cooled, squeeze the grated cooked pulp with your hands to remove the excess water.
In a separate bowl, whisk the yogurt and add the grated and squeezed bottle gourd. Mix it well. In another small pan, heat the ghee on medium low, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Next add the cumin seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. Turn off the heat.
Pour the ghee and spice mix onto the yogurt mixture while its hot. Add the salt and sugar to taste. Stir well. Add the roasted peanut powder and mix everything together. Garnish the raita with fresh coriander and enjoy with your meals.
1. Sedgwick, Fred (2009). Where words come from: A dictionary of word origins. London: Continuum International Publishing group. ISBN 9781847062741.
2. “Raita”. Merriam Webster.
3. Brothwell D, Brothwell P. Food in antiquity: a survey of the diet of early peoples. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1997
4. Batmanglij N. A Taste of Persia: An Introduction to Persian Cooking. Washington, DC: Mage Publishers; 2007
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