Raita, the forever loved Indian side dish hardly needs any introductions. I however did a quick search to see how Sir Google describes it and one of the top few definitions was courtesy the Cambridge English Dictionary, which describes it as below:
- A good Chicken Biryani or any biryani for that matter is just incomplete without a well made raita
- Too little time to cook? Plain ghee-rice and raita is a complete meal
- Eating chapatis and no time to make a full-fledged curry? Raita to the rescue!
- Parathas– stuffed or plain again taste divine with a raita
- Kulchas again pair very well with raita
- A veg or meat pulaao is perfect with raita too!
So, there you are, some great examples of dishes you can pair raita with!
The recipe I am going to be sharing today is my take on this versatile dish and it happened because I absolutely LOVE sweet potato leaves! Yes, you heard me right! The leaves are delicious and full of nutrients. I am not a huge fan of sweet potatoes themselves but whenever I can, I try and find a nice bunch of fresh sweet potato greens which make great stir fries. This is my gift from Hong Kong. Living in this city for almost 10 years I have learnt to enjoy all kinds of yummy greens, blanched and then flash cooked with some garlic.
This time however , I was in the mood to try something different and hence this dish. I usually make Spinach raita in a very similar fashion but I am so happy I tried this version as it turned out much creamier and yummier than the original.
Unlike most raitas, the veggies aka sweet potato leaves are added cooked . One can consume them raw too but they are a tad bitter and cooking with some garlic really helps balance the bitterness and adds tons of flavour to the final dish.
So, after throughly cleaning the leaves , I chopped them fine and cooked them for approximately 5 minutes on a low flame with some finely chopped garlic and hing (asafoetida). Once the raw smell disappeared and the leaves looked dryish, I added a pinch of salt and mixed it well and kept aside to cool to room temperature
While, the cooked leaves cooled off I prepared my curd. Now, you may or may not need to add some water to the curd depending on how watery it is and what consistency you want your raita to be. Usually store bought yogurt is thicker than home set curd so do thin it out as desired. I added half a cup water to two cups of yogurt and whisked well .
Then I added the spices- roasted whole cumin which was coarsely hand pound, roasted red chilli powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper too (you can skip the latter), half a teaspoon of oregano, rock salt (you can use regular salt too) and mixed it all well. If you are feeling indulgent you can also do a tadka with mustard seeds and dried red chilies but I skipped that as I wanted to keep it light. I chilled it in the refrigerator for half an hour and served it topped with some chilli flakes and since I am HUGE fan of the Japanese Mixed Chilli Pepper Togarashi I added some of that too- it is hot and nutty with sesame and great on raitas!
This is how the final consistency looks like :
- Sweet Potato Leaves, washed and finely chopped-3 cups
- Garlic, finely chopped - 2-3 cloves
- Hing (asafoetida)- 1/4 tsp
- Yogurt-2 cups
- Water- 1 cup or as desired
- Red chilli powder, lightly roasted and cayenne pepper- 1.5 tsp
- Whole cumin- 2 tsp
- Oregano- 1/2 tsp
- Togarashi (Japanese Mixed Chilli Pepper)- 1/2 tsp for garnish (optional)
- Oil- 1 tbsp
- Salt-to taste (use rock salt for best results)
- Wash the sweet potato leaves well and patty dry on a kitchen towel, then chop fine
- In a heavy bottomed pan heat oil and once it is hot, add hing and garlic and saute on a low flame for a few seconds
- Then add finely chopped sweet potato leaves and cook until water evaporates and raw smell disappears, then add salt and mix well ; set aside to cool
- Roast the whole cumin in a dry pan on low flame , stirring continuously for almost a minute or until fragrant ; pound it into a coarse powder using a mortar-pestle and set aside
- Whisk together yogurt and water as per the desired consistency (I added half a cup water to 2 cups yogurt), then add the dry spices- red chilli powder, cayenne pepper, cumin powder and oregano and salt and mix well
- Chill in the refrigerator for half an hour , garnish with Togarashi if using and serve right away