Lots of people associate spicy curries with Indian cooking, but there are SO many types of curry and different sauces. And, not all Indian sauces are spicy. This Indian raita (a cucumber yogurt sauce) is actually cool and refreshing—helping to mellow the spiciness in a meal and cool the palette!
Filled with grated cucumber, cilantro, and green onion, this Indian yogurt sauce is a fresh, creamy element that you can add to all kinds of savory, zesty dishes. I love to dollop a bit on top of a soup or curry!
But, you can enjoy this Indian raita in so many other ways—with or without Indian food. Drizzle on a salad, spread on a sandwich, or serve with raw veggies as a simple dip!
The Cooling Power of Indian Raita
In most Western cuisines, we tend to use condiments to add intense flavor—often spiciness—to our foods. But, in Indian cuisine, much of the food is already so flavorful and spicy that it needs balance. Rather than being used to add flavor to your meal, Indian raita is used to mellow flavor!
The yogurt base helps to cool down that burning feeling that spicy food leaves on your tongue, making it a common condiment served with Indian food. And that’s because milk and milk products (like yogurt or dahi) contain casein. Hot chilis contain capsaicin, which makes our taste buds sting, but casein can bind to capsaicin and wash it away from our tongue!
And, while one of the most well-known versions of Indian raita is as a cucumber yogurt sauce, there are other varieties. Some Indian raita recipes include tomatoes, onions, and other raw or cooked vegetables. More rarely, they can include fruit, and there are even boondi raita recipes with fried droplets of batter mixed into the yogurt!
Modify to Suit YOUR Lifestyle
When I make Indian raita, I like to use a plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt because of its refreshing bite of tangy flavor and subtle sourness. And, because Greek yogurt is strained more than regular yogurt, it has a thicker and creamier texture that’s great for veggie dips. Plus, it packs 3 grams of protein into each 2-tablespoon serving of this Indian raita recipe!
But, you can just as easily use regular yogurt or a nondairy yogurt to make your cucumber yogurt sauce. In fact, most classic Indian raita recipes use a plain (non-Greek) yogurt for a thinner, more sauce-like texture. That way, you can keep this recipe vegan, paleo, and even Whole30 friendly.
And, just like nondairy milks, there are plenty of nondairy yogurt options available—like coconut, almond, cashew, and soy milk yogurts. Whichever you prefer, I just recommend choosing a plain, unflavored, unsweetened variety of yogurt!