coconut cucumber raita
With the cooler weather that's visited us over the last few weeks comes the heartier, and in my world, spicier fare of robust soups, curries, stews, and more. While I'm not one to shy away from lively spice profiles for dishes in any season, I do admit to getting a little pepper-crazed when the crisp air of autumn arrives, and without a little relief, my taste buds can come, well, a bit numbed. Which is a bummer.
Raita is to the spice-overwhelmed as iced tea is to an August afternoon. Rather than forego all those zesty spices I so crave altogether, Raita is the perfect condiment to help calm the fire (without putting it out altogether) between bites.
Traditionally eaten in the gloriously-spiced cuisines of India, Raita is a yogurt-based condiment that can be eaten as a salad, or side dish, as well. Once you have the basics down--the yogurt, a hint of sweet, and some spicy somethings, any number of ingredients can be added, including the cucumber and coconut, below, lentils, beans, potatoes, onions, beet, turnip or any fruit or vegetable of your choosing along with various fresh herbs and spices.
Raita need not be relegated to also with status all the time. Try it with toasted pita or flatbread as a snack, fill it thick with vegetables for a salad on its own, or thin it out with a little rice wine vinegar or cream to dress fresh lettuce or other greens, or as a topping for your baked potato. Though I may run the risk of losing my That's the Way They Do it Down South card, I must admit to absolutely loving a spoonful or two atop my bowl of red beans and rice.
No, really! Give it a try!
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely diced or grated
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 t dried dill weed
1T peanut oil
1 T black mustard seed
1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
1 small (6-8oz) carton Greek-style yogurt
Combine cucumber with salt, seasoned rice vinegar, and dried dill weed and allow to marinate 4 hours, or as long as overnight. Drain well, pressing solids to remove as much moisture as possible.
Saute mustard seed in peanut oil until seeds begin to pop. Allow to cool and, in a bowl, combine with coconut. Toss well to blend.
In a serving bowl, whisk yogurt until add creamy. Add cucumbers and coconut mixture, stirring well to combine. Allow flavors to marry one hour prior to serving.