The following recipe is from the July 29 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up here!
One of my favorite parts of an Indian meal is raita, the cooling yogurt-based condiment, usually enhanced by cucumbers and sometimes mint. When preparing an Indian meal, I try to make the raita before I start cooking the main curries. My recipe is pretty simple: plain whole milk yogurt, grated cucumber, chopped mint, a bit of ground cumin and cayenne, and some salt and pepper. I like to give it at least an hour or two sit in the fridge and allow the flavors to meld. Fresh, creamy, crunchy, and a bit tart, it's the prefect counterbalance for pretty much any curry.
This recipe for sautéed spinach and yogurt from Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries is spicier and more substantial than your run of the mill raita. The spinach is cooked in a chile-infused oil, giving it a hint of smoke and spice. It has a bit more depth and body than a traditional raita and makes a wonderful and quick addition to any Indian meal.
- 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, whisked
- 1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
- 4 to 6 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, to taste, stems removed
- 8 ounces fresh spinach leaves, well rinsed, patted dry, and finely chopped
Whisk the yogurt and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cover the skillet, and cook until the seeds have stopped popping (not unlike popcorn), about 30 seconds. Stir in the chiles and cook until they blacken, 15 to 20 seconds.
Add a couple handfuls of the spinach to the hot oil, and stir until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat until all of the spinach has been added. Then continue to cook the spinach in its own water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the leaves have softened and olive-green in color, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the spinach mixture to the yogurt, and stir well. Then serve.