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Nik's Pumpkin Raita

Nik SharmaComment
 Nik Sharma's Pumpkin Raita on  

I think that you will find this recipe a fitting tribute to the transition between summer and fall, with its cool, light, and refreshing flavors. This pumpkin raita pairs deliciously with rice dishes, flatbreads like naan or rotis, or even as a dip for a party. If you want it spicier, just add a few more chili peppers. Above all, make sure to serve it super-chilled.

There are several hundred varieties of raitas, but all of them share one common ingredient: yogurt. I opt for plain Greek yogurt, but if you like your raitas thinner, mix in a little cold water till you achieve the desired consistency.


Recipe for Nik's Pumpkin Raita

Sugar Pie Pumpkins are ideal here. Here's how to prep them. Quarter the pumpkin, discarding the seeds and strings from the inner cavity. Peel and discard the skin. To grate the flesh, pass it through a food processor with the appropriate blade or use a box grater. 

Makes 4 servings

2 cups grated sugar pie pumpkin
1 Thai green chili, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
3 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 to 3 curry leaves (available at Indian markets)

Place the grated pumpkin in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a lid and microwave for 3 to 4 minutes until the pumpkin is completely tender.  Set aside to cool. (Alternatively, you may steam the grated pumpkin for a few minutes, just until tender.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, Thai chili, onion, cilantro, mint, Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper. Whisk with a fork and correct the seasonings, if desired. Transfer to a serving dish. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until chilled.

Just before serving, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until slightly smoky. Immediately drop the heat to low. Carefully add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. The seeds will begin to spurt and the leaves will brown. Cook until the seeds stop spurting, then pour the contents of the saucepan over the chilled raita. Serve immediately. 

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Words, Recipe + Photograph by Nik Sharma