Radish is one of those vegetables that you buy in a bunch and rarely use all at once, so I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate it into dishes. This recipe is one of my staples for when I have some extra ones lying around. I never would have thought to put radish in raita if not for my mother. She gave me this recipe. It's a nice combination of spiciness from the radish and chili and sweetness from the coconut.
This raita is made in a South Indian style where you pour heated spices over the yogurt at the end. This spice mixture is called vaggarne (I have trouble saying it so don't feel bad if you can't either). In North India, this tempering of spices is called chaunk. I made a video of this recipe which you can watch to understand how tempering works.
Raita is one of my favorite foods and I love how it is so versatile. You can make it with many vegetables - cucumber, tomato, potato, onion, but I feel that this raita is one I come back to over and over again. I also eat it in a variety of ways - as a side to a curry and roti, mixed in with rice, or just by itself.
Because I have cut out orange juice and many other citrus fruits for their high acidity, I have been looking for alternative sources of Vitamin C. Radish has become one of those substitutes. In addition, it is also good for digestion. This may explain why my grandmother would always put out some chopped radish to munch on while she prepared our meal.
When I first ate radish in India I realized that this vegetable is actually a spicy one. I have been finding though that in the US, only farm fresh radish has this same spicy flavor as opposed to the mild radishes you find in the supermarket.
You can also watch a video of this recipe here.
1/2 of a 32 oz. tub of yogurt - I like to mix a little bit of Greek yogurt in with regular to get a thicker texture
1 radish - grated (prefer the larger shred)
1/2 small plum tomato - cut into small pieces, seeds removed
2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut or thawed out frozen
Vaggarne (tempering oil)
2 teaspoons oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
pinch of asafoetida
1 - 2 fresh or dried curry leaf
1 dried red chili - broken into pieces
salt to taste
Combine grated radish, tomato, grated coconut and yogurt into bowl.
In small pan, under medium high heat, place 2 tsps of oil. When oil is hot, place asafoetida and mustard seed. Shake the pan up and cover. When mustard seeds start popping turn the heat down to low and place the curry leaf and broken up red chili (be careful to not burn yourself). Mix everything with a spoon until coated with oil and the curry leaf is crunchy but not burned. Pour this oil mixture onto the yogurt. To get all of the oil out, I usually put a spoon or two of the yogurt into the oil pan and pour it back in with the rest of the yogurt.
Put salt and mix thoroughly.
Garnish with cilantro.
Sometimes I add a pinch of chopped ginger too, but this is optional.