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.  

Enter Raita!

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.


  1. Can you believe I've never tried Raita?! That said, I intend to follow your recipe and give it a go!

    1. Hey! Thanks for dropping by! Let me know what you think when you try it. We're making the plain version with just cucumber, mint, and dill to eat with a spicy lentil 'dal', something like a thick stew, today. If it goes well, I'll post that recipe, too.

      Have a great week!

  2. i would never have thought of coconut with cucumber, but i'm game. {smile} i love cucumber, sweet onion, dill and black pepper in sour cream or yogurt.

    1. Thanks for dropping by! My grandmother made a similar salad to yours, and served it every meal in the summer. It had a little vinegar and sugar in it, and when I make it, it always makes me reminiscent of those days around her garden-fresh meals.

      Have a great weekend!

    2. my mother always added a little sugar and vinegar, too!

  3. I've never heard of raita. It looks and sounds delicious!

    1. Hi Molly Jo!
      Thanks for dropping by. Traditional raita has just yogurt, cucumber, dill and mint, and maybe some additional Indian spices, but that's just a beginning, and is souped up all kinds of ways in Indian cooking. They intend it to be eaten with all of their spiciest dishes. It's so easy to make!
      Have a great weekend!


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