Have you ever made something that you consider very ordinary and got unexpected rave reviews for it? During my final year of University study we had to go away to camp for a few days to start off our thesis year. It was meant to inspire us and also set a good vibe for the coming year. We got to talk to our supervisors and spend time with friends after the Summer break. We had set up camp at Wye River near the beautiful town of Lorne in Victoria.
The place was idyllic and very beautiful. We were all divided into groups of 4 and had a cabin to ourselves. One of the student requirements was that on the last evening each cabin had to cook a dish and bring for dinner which was meant to be shared by everyone. I had put up my hand to do the cooking for my group and everyone was happy to pitch in. We were preparing vegetable Pulao and raita. Vegetable Pulao is a common dish in India, it is similar to the Biryani but milder in my opinion and also it is not layered like the Biryani.
Pulao is a fragrant rice dish, flavoured with different spices and mine was a beautiful vegetarian version with lots of vegetables and herbs. I paired it with a simple raita and with the help of my other three friends we whipped it up in no time for the common dinner. And my what a reaction we got, it was totally unexpected. From an array of dishes like ravioli, spaghetti bolognese, sausages, fried rice, Beef Stir fry and what not, our dish was scraped clean first and everyone wanted more. People asked me for recipes, even people I didn't know - it was a happy and proud moment that we all savoured. I always felt that maybe my home style Indian cooking would not impress the Aussie palate, I am glad I was proven wrong. It just goes to show that simple, honest cooking and good flavours are appreciated everywhere. So my dear readers I am sharing with you my simple raita recipe today, the Pulao shall follow soon. Hope you enjoy it.
Recipe Print Recipe
yields 3 cups
2 Lebanese Cucumbers
1/4-1/2 cup Mint leaves - finely chopped
2 tbsp Coriander Leaves - finely chopped
21/2 tsp Roasted Cumin Powder
1-11/2 tsp Kala Namak (Black Salt)
2 cups Greek Yoghurt ( I like the creaminess of it, but you can use plain natural yoghurt also)
1/4 cup Milk (you can choose to replace milk with just water)
2-3 tbsp Water
a pinch of Red Chilli powder
Salt to taste
Pour the yoghurt into a bowl and thin it by adding the milk and water. Do not add too much liquid as we do not want it watery, thickness should be like pouring cream.
Chop the cucumber into a small dice and add it to the yoghurt. Add the Black Salt (use sparingly if you do not like the taste) a little regular salt, a pinch of chilli powder and 11/2 tsp of roasted cumin powder.
Following this add the mint leaves and coriander leaves, leaving a little for garnish. Give everything a good mix, so that it is well combined.
Now pour the raita into the serving bowl, sprinkle the leftover cumin powder and garnish with a few mint and coriander leaves. Serve with your choice of rice dish. Enjoy!
1. Black Salt or Kaala Namak is a salty and pungent smelling salt used in Indian cooking. It is a component in Chaat Masala and is also used widely as a seasoning in raitas, fruits, chutnys and salads. Black salt is made up of mostly Sodium chloride with traces of sodium sulphite, the presence of sulphur contributes to its pungent smell. It is easily available in Indian Grocery stores.
2. To make roasted cumin powder, dry roast the cumin seeds in a pan till they colour dark brown. Use a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind it to a fine powder.