Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Importance of Yogurt and the Deliciousness of Raita

College move-in is full throttle now. People are starting classes and for us poor freshmen it's exciting but kind of an upheaval. Which is why I am turning to yogurt.

The public is in full swing about why yogurt is important: because it works to enhance levels of good bacteria which can help your digestive system (especially good at stressful times such as college move in). But, it is lost on quite a few why healthy digestion is so important. Digestion is an important factor for seemingly unrelated things such as mood. I don't mean you have a stomach ache therefore you are unhappy. I mean that how well your digestion tract is working can determine the chemical balances in your brain. Other bacteria such as my favorite, Lactobacillus acidophilus (bionerds anyone?), can determine such remote things as stable estrogen levels.

Moral of the story: eat yogurt.

I will also quickly go beyond that and say if you can, eat plain yogurt. Not plain yogurt plain, necessarily, but plain yogurt usually has fewer fun and unneeded chemicals than flavored yogurts. Try eating yogurt with favorite jams or preserves. Honey is also a fantastic complement. Yogurt is great with granola or flavored syrups.

If you're more of a savory kind of person try this recipe for Raita, as it is called in Hindi, or Tzatziki, as it is called in Greek. There are small differentiations between the two such as type of yogurt used and in what proportion to the rest of the ingredients, but they both follow the same idea. The recipe I use here is one I wrote up during a class last year while paying attention to the lecture...

  • 1.5-3 cups of plain yogurt depending on how chunky or soupy you like your Raita
  • 1 firm cucumber
  • 1-2 large cloves of garlic (I did 2, but I love garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried coriander or about 10-20 leaves cilantro
  • 3-4 large mint leaves
  • Salt
  • Optional additions: sprinkle some dill or some cinnamon
-Mix the yogurt until smooth.
-Slice cucumbers in half, seed, and slice thinly
-Place cucumber in a strainer and salt (i.e sprinkle salt on top of all of the slices so that it can remove excess water) for about 30-60 mins or until the cucumber slices are mostly dry
-Crush/mince the garlic and mix with yogurt, cucumber, coriander, mint, and if opted for dill and/or cinnamon.
-For really good melding of flavors, let sit overnight. This will also take the overwhelming bite out of your garlic.

Eat it with bread or chicken or salad. Actually, Raita can be eaten with almost anything, and it can almost anything absolutely delicious.

Omnom, everyone! And for those of you in college now hope it's awesome!


  1. OMG I MISS MY RAITA. And I wanna try the salt and straining thing with my cucumbers...i like that idea. some people also add like those black rye seeds or toasted/ground cumin!

    wanna find a recipe for college-dorm samosas? =D

  2. Raita is excellent with a little bit of pita bread and just add water tabouli. (You can buy it in a box at most grocery stores, all you need is some boiling water)
    Love the blog!