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Grape and Cucumber Raita

Photograph by Steve Young-Burns

Having cooked alongside my friends from India including Raghaven Iyer [1], Suvir Saran [2] and Suneeta Vaswani [3], I am inspired daily by what each has taught me about the foods of their homeland.

They are masters at combining spices, now so readily available, in unique and flavorful ways.  Is this recipe exactly traditional?  That I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that it is not as I have not been able to find a recipe that combines both grapes and cucumbers.  That’s the beauty though of cooking, you get to adapt and change to suit your own tastes.

Indian cuisine oftentimes has a kick of heat, but enjoying it with this raita, cools the palate, for the enjoyment your next bite.  You can always kick up the heat of the raita too by adding more chilies and/or cayenne pepper to you liking.
About 8 – 1/3 cup servings (2 points)

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 – 2 dried hot chilies (depending on amount of heat desired)
2 1/2 cups plain 5% yogurt, such as Kalona SuperNatural [4]
1 cup red or green seedless grapes, cut in half
3/4 cup peeled, seeded and diced  English cucumber
2 scallions, diced (white and tender green leaves)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Combine the cumin, coriander, peppercorns and dried chilies in a small frying pan and toast over medium heat until the seeds begin to brown and become fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.  Grind to a powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and set aside.

Whisk the yogurt in a bowl until smooth and lightened.  Add the grapes, cucumber, onion, and mint and stir to mix well.  Stir in the ground spices and cayenne.  Chill well.  Stir in the salt just before serving and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro if desired.