Indian Cooking 101 - Recipe #3: How to make an easy Indian raita

Indian Cooking 101 – Recipe #3: How to make an easy Indian raita

Bowl of Indian raita with yogurt, cucumber, tomatoes, and fresh mint, with a touch of cumin and paprika

Indian Cooking 101 – our third lesson will focus on how to make an easy Indian raita. Perhaps you love raita; perhaps you’ve never heard of it. Raita is a yogurt-based side dish or condiment that is often paired with other main dishes

  • You will use two new ground spices – cumin powder and paprika

Now that you’ve learned how to make rice perfectly in lesson one, and an easy oven-roasted Indian vegetable dish in lesson two, let’s move on to a basic Indian condiment. Yogurt is a mainstay in Indian cuisine, throughout the subcontinent. Yogurt is eaten plain, combined with rice in South India; it is used to marinate tandoori chicken in North India. This is another dish that is safe to introduce to an Indian food skeptic because it’s reminiscent of other yogurt-based condiments like Greek tzatziki. Once again, this is a simple condiment that you can pair with anything you happen to be making for dinner, whether it’s Indian or not. If you are pairing it with Indian dishes, raita provides a wonderful cooling effect alongside much spicier, hot curries.

You’ve used curry powder in the previous lesson. Now you will be using two ground spices in this recipe: cumin powder and paprika. Two spices you might already have in your cupboard anyway! Cumin powder is used in most chilis and spice rubs, and paprika is used in stews, goulash, and on deviled eggs. The next time you go to an Indian restaurant, see if they offer more than one type of raita. This is a basic raita that is refreshing and healthy, but there are many other varieties of raita that are wonderful flavor combinations including everything from crisply fried okra to steamed pumpkin.

How to make an easy Indian raita

Serves 4


  • 1 small tomato, seeded and thinly diced
  • 1 small Kirby cucumber, seeded and thinly diced (no need to peel the skin)
  • A few fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I typically use a runnier yogurt like Stoneyfield rather than a thicker Greek yogurt like Fage in this particular preparation)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika for garnish


  1. Prepare tomato and cucumber by seeding them — this essentially means cutting them in quarters and removing the seeds. We do this so the raita doesn’t become mushy when the seeds combine with the yogurt. See the photo below.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, tomatoes, cucumber, and mint leaves. Mix to combine.
  3. Add the salt and cumin powder. Give it a taste and add a little more salt or cumin powder if you like.
  4. Finish by sprinkling a bit of paprika on top before serving.
Ingredients for Indian Raita: seeded and diced tomato, plain yogurt, fresh mint leaves, pepper, salt, paprika, cumin, seeded and diced cucumber

From left to right: seeded & diced tomato, plain yogurt, fresh mint leaves, pepper, salt, paprika, ground cumin, seeded & diced cucumber

Removing the seeds of a tomato with a sharp knife

Seeding a tomato is simply cutting it into halves or quarters and removing the seeds with a sharp knife

Mixture of fresh tomatoes, cucumber, and mint leaves

A garden medley of flavors: fresh tomatoes, cucumber, and mint leaves make for the perfect bite when combined with yogurt, a touch of cumin powder, and a dash of paprika to finish