What do you mean by raita?
For the uniniatiated, raita refers to a quintessentially Indian dish made using curd. There can be several different types of additions to the curd from okra, cooked pumpkin and roasted eggplant to foxnuts and fruits like banana, pomegranate and pineapple. The major ingredient in this raita is boondi.
Raita is made in different ways in different families, with small and big variations in the ingredients used. Cumin powder, salt, asafoetida, mustard, chaat masala, red chilli powder, sugar, mint leaves, coriander and curry leaves are some of the ingredients commonly added to raita, to give it body. A raita can range from the very simple to the elaborate, from the very healthy to the not-so-healthy.
I love trying out varieties of raita, trying to make each one different from the other.
What is boondi?
Boondi refers to little balls of spiced chickpea flour, deep-fried till crisp. Theres a sweet version of boondi too, but it is the savoury one that is used in the making of raita.
A very popular snack in India, ready-to-eat boondi is commonly available in stores everywhere. In South India, it is typically made in homes during Diwali. I usually buy my boondi from Adayar Ananda Bhavan (A2B), who do a brilliant job with it. That is precisely what I have used to make this Boondi Raita.
How I make Boondi Raita
I like my Boondi Raita to be very simple, with just a few ingredients added to it. I like it to be a bit sweet, and hence add sugar to it with the deep-fried boondi and the sugar, it is an occasional treat at home.It is a great way to use up any leftover boondi, and tastes absolutely awesome, if I may say so myself.
I also use black salt, which gives a unique fragrance to the Boondi Raita, as well as cumin powder to give it some depth of flavour.
I usually steer clear of chopped green chillies or red chilli powder while making this raita, because I usually pair it with something spicy anyway. I dont add any tempering to it, either, or chopped mint leaves, as I have seen being done in some restaurants.
Some people add the boondi to hot water, then squeezing it well before adding it to the curd. This is done to remove the excess oil from the boondi, and to make it soft. I dont do this, as we rather prefer keeping the crunchiness of the boondi intact.
Boondi Raita recipe
Without further ado, let me run you through my proceedure to make Boondi Raita.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 2 cups thick curd
- About 1/4 cup water
- Black salt to taste
- 1/2 cup boondi
- 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder or as needed
- 1 tablespoon sugar or to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1. Take the curd in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add in the water, roasted cumin powder, sugar and black salt. Whisk well, making sure the sugar is fully dissolved and completely integrated into the curd.
3. Add the boondi and chopped coriander just before serving. Mix well.
4. Serve immediately with a rice dish or as part of a thali meal.
Tips & Tricks
1. I used thick home-made curd to make this Boondi Raita. Adjust the amount of water you use, to bring the curd to a runny, but still thick consistency. For best results, the curd used to make raita should not be too watery.
2. Black salt gives a unique fragrance and taste to the raita. Use it as per taste. If you dont have any, you could use regular table salt instead, but I would strongly recommend using black salt.
3. I have used store-bought boondi here. You could make your own at home, if you so prefer.
4. We prefer the Boondi Raita to be a little sweetish, and hence the sugar. You could skip the sugar, if you dont prefer it. You could use jaggery powder instead too, but that might alter the colour of the raita a bit.
5. Roasted cumin powder refers to cumin dry-roasted till fragrant, then allowed to cool down and coarsely powdered. I make this in bulk and store in an air-tight bottle, using it as needed. A store-bought version can be used instead, too.
6. You can add a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida, as well as chopped mint leaves and red chilli powder to this Boondi Raita. I prefer keeping it basic, as above. Moreover, the store-bought boondi I used already had some cashewnuts and curry leaves added to it.
7. Use curd that is slightly sour not overly so for best results.
8. Add boondi to the curd just before serving, so as to retain its crunch. Letting the raita sit for too long after preparing will cause the boondi to go soggy.
9. Slightly chilled curd can be used to make this Boondi Raita. I make it with room-temperature curd only.
10. Make sure you use boondi that hasnt lost its freshness and which doesnt smell weird. Fried stuff like boondi tends to start smelling off if kept unused for too long, in which case it is best to discard it.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!