Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Seared Ginger Raita

I love raita, always have. It is the single element that brings spicy dishes and rice and bits and bobs together whilst never losing its own autonomy. It is a quite perfect accompaniment, an important part of many Indian meals. Not a single dish, its forms are as myriad as the curries it comes with.

Plain (natural) yoghurt 'dahi' is one of my favourite things, cold and creamy with a good sour tang it is somehow challenging and soothing simultaneously. It is the base of all raita, its coolness offering respite from spicy, and it can bring its own complexity and pleasure to the meal. My first one was simple - a little cucumber and mint, a perfect mouthful of summer. Then I tried it with coriander and toasted cumin seeds for a quite different set of flavours and textures, the crisp little seeds a tiny surprise. Mamta's Kitchen suggests the bacteria aids digestion, which is probably true, but the suggestion I like more is that raita should be served in generous portions. I must concur!

This particular recipe comes from Viet World Kitchen via Niloufer King, the award-winning author of My Bombay Kitchen. Using both raw ginger and some that you fry gently till it 'candies' this raita brings a whole other dimension of gingerness to the table.

Seared Ginger Raita

I had no curry leaves but did have some oil I made using fresh curry leaves so that was my base. Andrea Nguyen adds a note to her version worth passing on 'You can't really over do it so - go wild'.

Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, any level of fat
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
2 fresh red or green Thai chiles, slit to the stem
Leaves from 1 branch of curry leaves, wiped dry
1/4 cup finely julienned fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves

Put the yogurt into a large measuring cup or bowl and whisk it a few times to break it up. Add the chopped ginger and salt to taste. If the yogurt is super thick, add water by the tablespoon. Keep the yoghurt by the stove along with the remaining ingredients, except the cilantro which you’ll add later.

In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chiles and let them sizzle for a minute, until aromatic. Toss in the curry leaves and when they begin to darken and change color, add the julienned ginger. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, until the ginger starts turning brown and caramelizing. Now add the mustard seeds.

When the mustard seeds pop, pour all of the ingredients into the yogurt. Stir to combine well and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes to develop the flavors. The yogurt will take on some of the gingery goodness.

Sprinkle with chopped coriander to serve.

This is a gorgeous thing - as I ate it with aubergine and chickpea curry I started imagining it with other dishes, grilled fish and steaks and as a dipping sauce for raw vegetables. This one has serious possibilities!


Gourmet Chick said...

Love the look of this raita and the ginger adds an interesting touch

bron said...

It really is fab, particularly the shreds of crispy cooked ginger.