We have been celebrating Spring. Today’s post is mostly a collage of this wondrous time.
The past few days have been gorgeous. Balmy air, blue skies and the soft delicate petals on the trees, have dressed the earth as beautifully as it possibly can.
As the spring breathes color and life in to mother nature, my kitchen and the produce goes through renewal too. The note of nascent spring, and the sunshine calls for food that is light and fresh; lightly cooked and sauteéd, less processed, and of course food with some fresh colors.
It had been an extremely busy but fun week. The weather turned very pleasant, while the spring break began. I have been enjoying the outside a lot with my girls. The spring air beckons us for long walks, swaying blooming branches and a lot of play in the park. The inspiration of this recipe rose out of the colors of spring and the abundant blooms around our neighborhood.
And I decided to bring some spring indoors. No not the flowers, for they look best on the trees -
Spy the bee? The magic of nature’s at work
For those who are not familiar, Raita is simply a yogurt based Indian condiment often used as a side, sauce or dip. Fruits, and/or vegetables or even tiny lentil dumplings are combined with yogurt and the condiment may or may not be lightly tempered with spices and herbs.
We had planned a lot of time together and I had my heart filled with the my gals. Then the Super Moon and the Indian Festival of Holi came in together. While the Saturday evening was spent looking at the loveliest moon, the Sunday was full of action and chasing around with the colors for Holi.
It is indeed time for the beautiful pink!
Raita is served chilled and is considered a cooling dish. Even though Raita is usually a savory dish, certain times when only fruits are used along with yogurt, some kind of sweetener is used to strike that right balance of taste. The Mediterranean Cacık or Tzatziki very similar to the Indian Raita.
Although not very traditional, I have added some walnuts here. Believe me, it makes a mighty happy and refreshing lunch with some crisp grilled pitas and the beetroot and walnut raita.
Sweet or savory, the Raita makes a wonderful accompaniment with grilled meat and works wonderfully as a side for a light lunch, or as a dip with crackers or flat breads.
Endlessly versatile, any kind and combination of fruits, vegetables are spices may be used to make Raita. and the dish may be used in any way you want. It all depends on the regions of India, and of course the personal preferences.
Beetroot Raita – Lightly Seasoned Beetroot and Yogurt Salad
- 1 large beetroot
- 2 cups strained yogurt, or Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup walnut, lightly toasted and broken into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 scant teaspoon whole mustard or sesame seeds
- 1 fresh green hot pepper – Serrano or Thai Bird, sliced very thin
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- scant 1/4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder (optional)
- 10 fresh Curry leaves (optional)
- red chili powder/paprika/cayenne, to taste
- fresh cilantro/coriander or fresh mint (if you are not using Curry leaves)
Note: I have used Curry leaves to season and flavor the raita. The Curry leaves may be substituted with any herbs. I love using fresh mint or cilantro. If you are not using Curry leaves, do not cook the mint/cilantro in oil; muddle the herbs to release the flavor and add them fresh to the yogurt instead.
Boil or roast the beetroot till cooked. Cool, peel and grate/shred or julienne the beetroot. The root may be chopped into very tiny cubes if shredding seems like an effort.
Combine yogurt, salt, sugar, chili powder/paprika, roasted cumin powder and whisk till smooth and creamy. Combine the toasted nuts, prepared beetroot, half the amount of fresh chili pepper and add them to the whisked yogurt. Gently stir them in.
Heat the oil and add the mustard OR sesame seeds. When they start to splutter, switch off the heat and add the rest of the chili peppers and the curry leaves to the hot oil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the raita – yogurt, beetroot mix.
Gently stir in the tempering and serve chilled.
Serve as a condiment, side or a dip.