Cucumber Raita or Yogurt Cucumber Salad:
Raita serves a calming side dish for many spicy Indian foods; however this also can be made hot and spicy. It can be spiced in many different ways and can also be made with a variety of veggies and herbs. I am posting a very simple version of Raita that can be made by everyone. Please do read notes and try different variations. This will serve as side dish to my earlier post (Rice Pulav or Rice Pilaf).
2 Cups Plain Yogurt (Non Fat or low fat will do fine)
½ cup small diced fresh Cucumber
Seasoning (try any one at a time, ¼ tsp roasted & ground Cumin seeds, or ¼ tsp black pepper)
Herb (try any one at a time, 1 tbs fresh chopped mint or Basil or Cilantro (Coriander leaves) or Dill)
Salt to tasteTake yogurt in a bowl and smoothened it with a spoon add seasoning and herb and mix. Add Cucumber and mix it again. If you are not going to eat it right away don’t add salt because salt will start releasing water from Cucumber.
Notes: Black pepper or Cumin will work fine with Mint. Cumin goes well with Cilantro. Black pepper will go nicely with Basil or Dill. One can make this with individually or in combination with fresh Tomatoes, red, yellow or white or green Onions, Colored pepper or green peppers, Zucchini, or softer long verities of yellow Squash, Carrots (any veggies that one can eat raw).
If you make it with Greek yogurt and granted veggies then it works very well as spread or dip (Add salt just before serving!!).
Curative Properties: Yogurt- Do you know that majority of vitamin B complex daily need is provided by intestinal flora of bacteria? These day commercial yogurts are trying to charge you lot more money for same thing by labeling it as “Probiotic”. It is nothing but yogurt. Yogurt not only provides protein and minerals (from milk) but it also provides “Lactobacillus” (bulgaricus, or casaei and other species) bacteria that is part of our microbial flora in intestine. Yogurt seeds our flora with fresh bacteria. Yogurt is wonderful after or during consumption of antibiotics. Because of its consistency it is very calming for intestine after a spicy meal. Due to its acidic nature and emulsifying properties it help to break down fat in our food that can cause indigestion. Next time if anyone asks I will post how to make homemade yogurt!
Cucumber- Cucumbers are member of cucurbitacea family. Almost all melons belong to the same family and provide similar health benefits. Cucumbers contain three beneficial lignans (lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinal) that reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer such as breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancer. Fresh cucumbers extract posses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Cucumbers help in scavenging free radicals, inhibit activities of pro-inflammatory enzymes (e.g. cyclo-oxygenase-2 or COX-2, medicine based on inhibition of this enzyme, “Celebrex” is used for pain management in arthritis) and prevent overproduction of nitric oxides that pose health risks. Other group of chemicals “Cucurbitacins” blocks signaling pathways in various cancerous cells. It was used extensively in traditional medicine for taking care of inflammation. Look for curative properties of various herbs in future posts.