When I was photographing this raitha earlier today, my husband came into the room and said “I can’t believe you don’t have this one up yet.” I make this so often during the week, sometimes as a side that we eat alongside rice, and sometimes—I’m a weirdo if you didn’t get the memo—as a snack in the evening. I love it so much. So I’ll echo my husband’s thoughts – I CAN’T BELIEVE I DON’T HAVE THIS ONE UP YET. About time, I think.
Raithas are a cinch to make. You throw your veg (or fruit) in there, get some spices tempered, yogurt in, mix, done. Which is great, I mean, that’s the beauty of it. But I find that a little extra effort goes a long way. Come back! By that I mean blending a few things together. Nothing more strenuous, promise. Coconut and green chillies are blended into a paste and stirred through, which adds an extra dimension of flavour and also helps thicken the raitha. You don’t have that mound of veg on one side and a loose watery raitha that runs all over the plate on the other.
Can you use the same recipe with other veg? Absolutely. I do the same thing with carrots and white pumpkin – grate the carrots and keep them raw. Cube the white pumpkin and cook them the same way as the beets.
A note on prepping and cooking the beets: I vastly prefer grating the beets to chopping them. Texture-wise. If you have a food processor, use the grater attachment. If not, a regular handheld grater works just fine. About the cooking – your options are boiling, oven-roasting, and cooking on the pan (you could either grate them and then cook or vice versa).
My thoughts on each: Although roasting trumps every other method in terms of flavour, this is a good move only if you have it done in advance/are willing to have it take upwards of an hour to get it out on the table. Wrapping in foil and baking etc is time consuming and seems unnecessary here in my opinion. Just putting it out there that this is an option though. I salute you from afar if you embark on this mission. Boiling: don’t do it. One, it’ll be a pain to grate once the beets are boiled. Two, all the flavour and nutrition is lost in the water. My way: grate first, then cook in a pan with just a touch of water and salt until tender. The salt draws out the moisture from the beets and helps them along. I apologize for that barrage of information, but I had to leave that there.
BEETROOT RAITHA WITH COCONUT
- 2 medium-sized beets
- 1 ½ cups yogurt (see notes)
- 2 green chillies
- ¼ cup fresh coconut (see notes)
- Salt, to taste
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tsp split urad dhal
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 2 dried red chillies
- 1 sprig of curry leaves
- 8 shallots or ½ an onion, finely chopped
- 2 tsp oil
- Grate the beets with their skins on. Add the grated beets to a pan and season with salt. Add a touch of water (about 1 tbsp) and cook covered until they are tender.
- Check occasionally and add more water if they start to stick to the bottom. Pinch a piece between your fingers and taste to check that they are done. Add to a bowl.
- Grind the coconut and green chillies to a fine paste. Add to the cooked beets.
- Tempering: heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they start to pop, add the cumin seeds, urad dhal, dried chillies and curry leaves. The urad dhal will start to brown in about 15 seconds. Add the chopped shallots at this stage and sauté until browned around the edges.
- Tip the tempered spices into the bowl with the beets and ground coconut. Toss it all together with the yogurt. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
- If the yogurt is too thick, add a bit of water to loosen.