Call it Indian yogurt sauce or dip, a raita is just the sort of cooling, contrasting creamy, delicious condiment that is needed with Indian food or with your summer grilling. Although this raita recipe gives summer vibes - with cucumber and cooling yogurt - I suggest you keep this recipe handy for making all year along! Oh, and this recipe can be made vegan! 💚
This post contains lots of helpful tips and trick to help you make the perfect dish. However, if you are in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" link or any of the "Jump to" links below to get to the section that you want.
Ingredients for this simple raita recipe
This recipe requires just 7 ingredients! 😌
See recipe card for quantities.
Yogurt: Traditionally, this recipe is made with hung curd that is thick and creamy. Since I find it hard to get hung curd, I use Greek yogurt instead. You can use any other variety of thick, full fat yogurt of your choice.
Roasted cumin powder: Also known as bhuna jeera, this ingredient adds a distinctive, earthy flavor to this dish. You can add regular cumin powder instead.
Chilli: This recipe calls for both green chili and red chili powder. You can skip both if you are not a fan of heat. Or you can use the milder variety for just the flavor without the heat.
Herbs: I love fresh cilantro (coriander) in this recipe. If you are not a fan of cilantro, feel free to use mint leaves instead.
Cucumber: I use English cucumber for this recipe. Use any type of cucumber that is locally available to you.
What is raita?
Is raita a dip or a sauce? I can never make up my mind!
Raita (or raitha) is a side dish that is usually served with Indian dishes, most commonly with biryani, pulav, roti (flatbread) or any Indian meal.
This simple dish holds a place of great importance in the Indian meal scene - both for flavor and health. The yogurt, the gut-healing spices and herbs aid in digestion (much needed after the onslaught of spices 😃).
Raita is what this Indian yogurt sauce is called in the Northern parts of India. In the Southern parts of India it has other names - thayir pachadi (Tamil Nadu and Kerala) and perugu pachadi (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana).
A basic raita is made of yogurt, mild spices, fresh herbs (most commonly cilantro) and vegetable/ fruit of choice. Tomato, spinach, onion, pomegranate or beetroot raita are the most common ones.
This one comes together in under 10 minutes and is such a savior as a side for weeknight dinner!
See recipe card for quantities and additional notes.
Step1: Chop the cucumber into small pieces.
Step 2: Chop green chilies and cilantro. Place these, along with the chopped cucumbers, in a bowl.
Step 3: Add the spices: bhuna jeera, ground red chilli and salt. Mix.
Step 4: Add the yogurt. Mix well.
Note: Sprinkle some roasted cumin powder additionally on each serving for that extra pop of flavour and crunch.
What is the difference between raita and tzatziki?
Although both raita and tzatziki are made with yogurt and have fresh herbs and spices, they are quite different from each other in flavors. Here are some of the differences:
|Thicker consistency||Thinner consistency|
|Requires lemon juice||Lemon juice is not added to raita|
|Flavorings: olive oil, garlic and salt||Flavorings: roasted cumin powder, paprika, salt|
|Has added oil||Has no added oil|
Tips to make a good raita
Fresh Spices: I make small batches of roasted cumin powder at home. Fresh ground spice really is a game changer in this recipe! Some people also add chaat masala.
Check out my video on how to make roasted cumin powder at home. It is easy!
You can use can regular cumin powder.
Fresh Herbs: Using fresh herbs in a raita is absolutely essential for best taste. Please do not use dried herbs - they do not work well in this recipe. I have used cilantro.
The other herbs that work well in a raita are mint and dill.
As I am writing this, I am thinking that the green part of scallion (spring onion) will taste great too! (I must try it soon) You could also use a combination of fresh herbs.
Have you tried using scallions or a combination of herbs? Do let me know in the comments below. I am excited to know!
Cucumber - chopped or grated? I like it finely chopped (see picture above) and that is because I love the crunch of chopped cucumber against the cool yogurt and the heat of the chopped chillies. If you so prefer, grate the cucumber.
When feeding it to young children, grating the cucumber is definitely a better option. Just remember to squeeze out the water from the cucumber after grating. Otherwise the raita will become too watery.
Season well: This is such a simple recipe and therefore every ingredient counts! There are only 3 spices that we are using - salt, roasted cumin powder and red chili powder. A raita that is not well seasoned can taste quite "hollow".
The yogurt: Traditionally raita recipe calls for thick (hung) curd. The juice from the cucumber mixes with the thick curd, giving the raita a sauce like consistency which is perfect for scooping up with a piece of bread or naan. Thick and creamy plain yogurt works best.
Greek yogurt does a great job of replacing thick curd - it gives it the consistency of a yogurt dip, which is great! Please do not use low fat yogurt for this recipe. Also bear in mind that the yogurt should not be sour.
Storage and making ahead
- Raita tastes best fresh. If you want to make it ahead, then keep it in the refrigerator till the rest of the meal is ready.
- Raita, ideally, should be consumed within a day.
- If you want to make it a day or two ahead, then do all the prep work i.e. chopping the cucumber and chilies, the day before. Keep the spices, herbs and yogurt measured and in separate containers and store them in the fridge. Mix all of these together just before serving.
Variations and substitutions
- Add more veggies: This being cucumber raita, I have used only cucumber. Feel free to add any or all of these:
- finely chopped onions
- finely chopped tomatoes (or make tomato raita)
- grated carrot (a small one would do for the proportions of this recipe)
- Make it vegan: Add any plant based yogurt of your choice to make this a vegan raita.
- Make a cold soup: Just add more water and whisk the raita well to turn into the most refreshing cold soup, ideal for summer heat!
- Add more flavor: Though not traditionally added to a raita, a splash of lemon juice and some minced garlic can instantly add more flavor to your raita recipe. You can also add some chaat masala. I would not, however, recommend adding garam masala to a raita.
- Spicy or not: Do away with the green chilies if you are not a fan of spice. Add a small piece of finely chopped green bell pepper (capsicum) for the flavor minus the heat!
Raita is a quintessential part of an Indian meal. The yogurt not only adds its distinctive tanginess to the dish, but also helps in digestion.
Raita pairs well with most Indian dishes and especially so with spicy dishes such as biryani, curry or tandoori chicken.
Here are a few suggestions of serving this raita as part of your meal:
Fusion meal ideas for a quick weeknight dinner:
- Pair it with this incredibly flavorsome Moroccan inspired vegan cous cous salad.
- Make a delicious meal with this Mediterranean inspired homemade flatbread, some hummus and a fresh salad.
- Use it as a spread for your sandwich.
- Make a filling for a vegan tortilla wrap with a simple spinach stir fry.
Indian meal ideas:
- Make a sumptuous grain free meal with this gluten free naan, sauteed okra and carrots and daikon pickle.
- A gluten free meal of this aromatic pulav rice and comforting green moong dal will keep you going for hours!
- If you are thinking of a meal for your little one, then pair the raita with this kid friendly jeera rice and aloo matar.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. In short, this raita recipe will make any meal an immensely satisfying one!
Frequently Asked Questions
A raita had two main ingredients - yogurt and spices. Traditionally raita is made with hung (thick) curd. However, any full fat, thick yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, will work well. The spices commonly added to a raita sauce are: cumin powder, red chilli powder and salt. Fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint and dill are important to any raita sauce.
Although both raita and tzatziki are made with yogurt and have fresh herbs and spices, they are quite different from each other in flavors.
Tzatziki: is thick in consistency and has lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt in it. Raita: is thinner in consistency, does not traditionally have garlic, lemon juice and oil added to it. Raita has spices such as roasted cumin powder, paprika, chaat masala and salt. Raita also calls for fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint or dill.
Raita pairs incredibly well with any dish as a sauce or a dip. It pairs particularly well with spicy dishes such as jollof rice, biryani, curry and naan.
If you have made this simple raita recipe, please take a moment to leave a comment and /or a rating below. This will make me super happy and motivate me to create more good content for you! xx Padma
Cucumber Raita Recipe (Indian Yogurt Sauce)
- 1 bowl
- 1 mixing spoon
- 1 large cucumber (300grams, approximately)
- 2 green chilies
- 15-20 leaves of fresh cilantro (leave out the stems)
- 1 teaspoon bhuna jeera (roasted cumin powder)
- 1 teaspoon salt (adjust as per taste)
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder (or paprika)
- 2 cups Greek yogurt or hung curd (500grams, approximately)
- bhuna jeera (roasted cumin powder)
- red chili powder (paprika)
- Finely chop the cucumber. green chilies and cilantro. Place them in a bowl in which you will be making the raita.1 large cucumber, 2 green chilies, 15-20 leaves of fresh cilantro
- Now add the roasted cumin powder, salt and red chili powder. Toss. You will notice that the cucumber almost immediately starts to release its juices.1 teaspoon bhuna jeera, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- At this stage, add in the Greek yogurt / hung curd. Mix well till all the ingredients are combined well.2 cups Greek yogurt or hung curd
- Serve. You can chill the raita in the refrigerator and serve it cold as a side to a meal (see suggestions in the notes above) or have it as a snack on its own!
- Just before serving, sprinkle some more bhuna jeera and red chilli powder for that extra crunch and bite (totally optional).bhuna jeera (roasted cumin powder), red chili powder (paprika)
- Cucumber: Use the dark green variety. For this recipe, the cucumber should be fresh, tender (and seedless), and firm. The crunch of the fresh cucumber and the cool, creamy yogurt is the perfect combination!
- Green chilies: Not a fan of heat? No worries. Skip the green chilies. If you want a bit more crunch, a small piece of finely chopped green bell pepper (capsicum).
- Cilantro: Fresh herbs are a must. If cilantro is not your thing, use mint leaves instead. You can add cilantro and mint - it will be a flavor bomb for sure!
- Bhuna jeera: The roasted cumin powder adds such a deep, earthy aroma to this raita. I urge you to use it. However, if you do not have it handy, it is ok to use regular cumin powder.
- Which yogurt to use? Traditionally hung curd is used for making raita. Greek yogurt does a good job of replacing hung curd. Please do not use low-fat yogurt. We need the rich, creaminess of full-fat, thick yogurt to withstand the juices that ooze out from the cucumber. If you do not have Greek yogurt, you may use any other full-fat thick yogurt. Keep in mind that the yogurt should not be sour.
- Raita tastes best when fresh. You can make it ahead and keep it in the refrigerator till the rest of the meal is ready. Raita, ideally, should be consumed within a day.
- Prep ahead: If you want to make the raita, say, a day ahead, then do all the prep work i.e. chopping the cucumber and chilies the day before. Keep the spices, herbs, and yogurt measured and in separate containers. Mix all of these together just before serving.
- Variations: This being cucumber raita, I have used cucumber only. If you so like, you may add any or all these as well: finely chopped onions, finely chopped tomatoes, or grated carrot (a small one would do for the proportions of this recipe)
Note: The nutrition information is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Such a simple recipe! Looks delicious! Will try it soon.
Padma Kumar says
Thank you so much Jane! I agree that it is a simple and delicious recipe. Hope you can try it soon.
Love, love this recipe! The creaminess of the yogurt against the crunch of the cucumbers is so good!
Thank you Devaki, so glad you liked it! I love this recipe too, especially with flatbreads!