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Easy Homemade Cucumber Raita

Cucumber Raita, that refreshing and cooling staple of Indian cuisine, is the perfect finishing condiment for an Indian meal. Serve it with spicy food like curries, as a dip for flatbread, drizzled over biryani, with tandoori cooked meats, and more.

a low angle shot of a bowl of cucumber raita with radishes on top

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What is raita

Raita is an Indian yogurt sauce or condiment that often accompanies spicy dishes. Because it is made with yogurt, it has a cooling effect. It is super refreshing and can put out the fire from hot chiles. This makes it the perfect accompaniment to many fiery Indian dishes.

This sauce is typically a combination of yogurt, grated cucumbers or other vegetables, fresh herbs like mint or cilantro, and sometimes dried spices like cumin and paprika.

Whenever I make Indian food, I make a batch of refreshing Cucumber Raita.

What do you serve raita with?

Cucumber raita is a cool, refreshing Indian condiment, usually served alongside spicy dishes. It can also be served as an appetizer, with vegetables, poppadom, paratha, or naan.

Raita is also commonly served with biryani, like this Instant Pot Chicken Biryani, Tandoori Chicken, Palak Paneer or Instant Pot Palak Paneer, Chicken Tikka Masala, or any spicy Indian dishes.

It is actually very similar to the Greek yogurt sauce called tzatziki, which is also made with yogurt, vegetables like cucumber, and fresh herbs. That said, this raita makes a perfect topping or yogurt dip for Instant Pot Falafel, on top of a Chickpea Burger, or as part of a mezze platter with Instant Pot Hummus and Homemade Pita Bread.

Honestly, Indian raita is so delicious that it hardly matters what you choose to use as your delivery vehicle!

Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make raita

What ingredients do you need to make Cucumber Raita?

The ingredients for this Cucumber Raita recipe are simple and easy to find in any market.

  • Cucumber (you can use one large cucumber, like an English cucumber, or a few smaller ones like Persian cucumbers)
  • Whole-milk plain yogurt
  • Fresh mint
  • Ground cumin or cumin powder
  • Salt
  • Paprika (optional)
  • Radishes (optional)

How do you make it?

The key to really good cucumber raita is to be sure to squeeze as much of the water as you can out of the cucumber. This will ensure that your raita is creamy, not watery.

  1. Seed the cucumber using a spoon to scoop the seeds from the center.
  2. Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater.
  3. Put the grated cucumber in a clean dishtowel and squeeze it to get out as much of the water as you can.
  4. Combine the yogurt with the cucumber, mint, cumin, salt, and radishes if using and stir to mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  5. To serve, garnish with paprika if desired.

What are some raita variations?

Variations

There are lots of different variations of raita. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Add seeded, chopped tomatoes
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Julienned radishes
  • Substitute chopped fresh cilantro leaves or dill for the mint
  • Add toasted cumin seeds, coriander powder, garam masala, or even red chili powder
  • Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Try garnishing it with Indian black salt
  • You can even make it with fruit, like Pineapple Raita!

Frequently asked questions about raita

Do you have to chill it before serving?

You definitely don’t have to, but this is one of those dishes that gets better as the flavors meld. Letting it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes just makes it that much better. You can even make it a day ahead and store it, covered, in the fridge until serving time.

Can you make raita with sour cream instead of yogurt?

Yes, you can substitute sour cream for the yogurt in this recipe. It will be richer and a bit tangier, but still delicious!

What is the difference between tzatziki and raita?

The two sauces are very similar. Both are made by combining yogurt, fresh vegetables like cucumber, fresh herbs, and spices. Raita is usually made with regular yogurt that is a bit thinner and creamier, while tzatziki is made with Greek yogurt, giving it a thicker consistency.

What is the best type of yogurt to use to make raita?

You can use any plain, full-fat yogurt to make raita. For a more traditional Indian raita, use regular whole-milk yogurt, which has a runny consistency. You can use Greek-style yogurt, which will make a thicker raita, if you like.

a low angle shot of a bowl of cucumber raita with radishes on top
Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Cucumber Raita

Cucumber Raita

Raita, that refreshing and cooling staple of
Indian cuisine, is the perfect finishing condiment for an Indian meal. It's a cooling additional spicy food like curries, a dip for flatbread, biryani, tandoori, and more. It’s easy to make, too!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

Instructions

  1. Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater.
  2. Wrap grated cucumber in a clean dishtowel and squeeze to remove as much of the excess water as you can.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, salt, mint, and cumin and stir to combine. Garnish with radishes and/or paprika if desired.
  4. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.

Notes

Raita can be made a day or two ahead of time and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 47Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 8mgSodium 188mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 4gProtein 3g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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By on October 15th, 2021

About Robin Donovan


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 40 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners, 5 Ingredient Cooking for Two, Sushi at Home, The Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other popular publications.

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