How many times have you wanted to dish up something that is beyond pedestrian without putting in a lot of effort or time in the kitchen? I have those moments a lot, and I’m not talking about opening the kind of cooking that involves a packet or emptying the contents of a tin into a pot!
I have always said that much as I enjoy cooking and exploring various techniques and cuisines, it definitely does not mean that I enjoy slaving in the kitchen. I don’t mind doing the “nose to the kitchen grind” thing occasionally but I’d prefer those occasions to be rather far apart.
So I tend to look for simple, tasty and nutritious options when it comes to cooking by and large and it’s not just for my everyday cooking. This is more especially the case when we’re having company for dinner when I don’t want to spend all my time sweating it over my pots and pans. For me these dinners with friends or family is more about being together and a little less about the food.
For these occasions, my menus tend to be a mix of dishes I can cook ahead or at least do most of the preparation ahead of time and some dishes which are simple enough that I can put together just before I serve them without much effort.
Occasionally, I will cook something which has to be served hot at the table straight from the stove-top but these are usually when my friends are with me in the kitchen, so not only do I have help but it’s also catch-up time without the men folk or kids.
If you are not very familiar with Indian food, a Raita is a North Indian dish yogurt based side dish, something like a Tzatziki, but not as thick in consistency as a dip. It is usually mildly spiced and can be made with chopped raw or cooked vegetables, diced fruit or even gram flour (besan) fritters called “Boondhi” or “Sev”. In my part of the South, we make something similar called “Thayir Pachadi” which sometimes uses grated coconut as well.
Today’s dish, the Green Grape Raita, is one of those dishes which can be put together and served without much preparation, looks good and has nice sweetness from the green grapes in it. The use of green grapes makes it a little unusual from the usual garden variety of Raita, different enough to serve at a special dinner or a party. Do use a sweet and seedless variety of green grapes for the best results.
You can even run the grapes in a blender to break them down and then fold that into thick Greek style yogurt, along with some crushed mint, to serve as a dip. Whether you would like the tempering with oil and spices for your dip, is entirely up to you.
Green Grapes Raita (Green Grapes in Spiced Yogurt)
- 3/4 cup green grapes seedless
- 1 1/2 cups yogurt thick
- 1 tsp mustard seeds black
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 1/2 tsps cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
- 1 tsp Black gram lentils split (urad dal)
- 1 sprig curry leaves (optional)
- 1 1/2 tsps sugar
- 1/2 to 1 tsps red chilli powder (as you prefer)
- to taste Salt
- Wash the grapes, pat them dry and cut them into halves, lengthwise.
- Add the sugar, salt and chilli powder to the yogurt and whisk with a fork till it is smooth. Fold the chopped grapes into the yogurt and chill till youu2019re ready to serve the Raita.
- Just before serving, transfer the Raita into a serving bowl. Heat the oil in a small pan, and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the lentils and turn the heat down to low. Stir this until the lentils turn a golden brown. Then add the fenugreek and cumin seeds, and the asafoetida. Stir once or twice and turn off the heat. Add the curry leaves and pour this into the yogurt.