Cucumber raita is a delicious creamy condiment which is served with dishes where curries are available. While the curries are spiced and hot, cucumber raita is cooling and refreshing. As it is served chilled, the cold yogurt helps to neutralize spicy food allowing one to enjoy even more spices.
At my favourite banana leaf rice restaurant located in Kuala Lumpur, cucumber raita is served as one of the basic dishes. Besides that, other basic dishes such as stir-fry cabbage with turmeric, rasam and fried snake gourd (no snakes used) are also served along with rice and a selection of curries. Refills of the basic dishes are given without any additional charges.
If you are planning to prepare cucumber raita, do not go running to the kitchen before reading these considerations below.
More or less yogurt
I noticed how cucumber raita in Malaysia has very little yogurt. It is neither good nor bad as having a lot or a bit of yogurt is actually a matter of preference. In fact, I had only learned to love yogurt just recently.
If you do not want too much yogurt or would like cucumber raita to be less creamy, use half of the recommended amount. Regardless of the amount of yogurt used, chill it for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Remove the seeds of the cucumber
98% of the cucumber consists of water. When preparing cucumber raita, the seeds are usually removed as the water content is concentrated within the seeds. As such, the dish will be creamier since there is lesser water content.
To take this a step further, mix the chopped cucumber chunks with half a tablespoon of salt and leave it aside for 15 minutes before rinsing. However, if you would like to keep the water content, then just mix the dish once again before serving. You will notice some water being drawn out of the cucumber. It is fully acceptable to keep the seeds and have more water content in the cucumber raita as they contain most of the nutrients. So, it is entirely up to you.
With or without coriander
I am personally a big fan of coriander (also known as cilantro) but there is a big group out there that detests it. It might be a strong word but sadly, it is true. According to Prof Russel Keast, it is all in your genetics which decides if you love or not. Sprinkling chopped fresh coriander on cucumber raita adds a hint of refreshing lemony taste, at least to the coriander lovers! If you do not enjoy it, substitute with some mint leaves instead.
If you are preparing for a big group, you may prepare this dish for up to 12 hours in advance but keep it chilled.
This dish also goes well with Nasi Briyani.