Sunday, August 2, 2009

Vegan Cucumber Raita

Raita is a cooling salty yogurt dish or condiment served with spicy
Indian food. Traditionally it would only contain a few spices, mainly
coriander/cilantro. I cannot tell specifically if the cucumber raita is
traditional or not, but often fresh minced vegetable dapple this
creamy dish.

As far as yogurt goes, many dairy yogurts contain gelatin.
I actually created an entire podcast on gelatin, but never got around
to publishing it. Briefly, if you didn't know gelatin is the boiled tendons
and collagen of animal bones (or boiled skins) and is used a thickener.

I know that stonyfield, nancys, and wallaby(?) do not use gelatin,
but they are dairy products. So go the whole way I say. I used to use
stonyfield or the wallaby one when I still consumed dairy products.
Yet they always seemed runy or too wet. I now use (and rave about)
Wholesoy & Co., a diary-free soygurt. It contains live active cultures
and soymilk and tastes better than dairy yogurt if you ask me.
AND! Quite often it is cheaper than diary yogurt. I believe the organic
dairy yogurts range from 3.99-4.99 at my local health food store
and the soy-based yogurt is usually 3.39 when it is not on sale.

So! On to the freakin food already. The other night I made a big feast
of falafel, curried couscous, and raita. Man, falafel is one of my favorites
and right up there with curry. I will post a whole entry on my tricks
to making a better, healthier falafel. But right now... Raita.

I use a combination of two recipes from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the
East: Vegetarian Cooking. This is really a bang up book and I highly
suggest trying to find it. I think the original publication is from '81 or
something though.

If there are no kids partaking I throw in a little cayenne to add a
little kick.

Cucumber Raita

2 cups of soygurt
1 cucumber, diced (you can peel it if you wish, but I do not)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, minced
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 cup raisins (preferably golden)
3 tablespoons of chopped walnuts
a little black pepper

Place soygurt in a bowl and beat until creamy.
Add all the remaining ingredients and serve!

I serve it in pita pockets with falafel, but I love eating it alone.
I swear this is one of the things that got me through my last
year of undergrad. But it is better to not let it sit to long
before eating. The earliest I could make it was late late the
night before I'd go to school. The raisins tend to get mushy
from the moisture and the cucumbers release water that
may cause separation.

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