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Cook | Nik's Cucumber Cilantro Mint Raita Parfaits

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Nik's Cucumber Cilantro Mint Raita Parfaits

Nik's Cucumber Cilantro Mint Raita Parfaits

Nik's Cucumber Cilantro Mint Raita Parfaits
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Here's an especially perfect way to deal with warm, late summer weather: a fresh cilantro and mint chutney with a dash of fresh gingerroot blended in. You can use this chutney as a dip, spread it between slices of buttered bread, or use it in this raita recipe below.

I make raitas at home a couple of times a week, and always on hot summer days. The refreshing, cooling combination of cucumber, cilantro, and mint completely hits the spot. I've offered two ways to present the raita, so choose your favorite and have fun. (I do find that the parfait-style travels well when it comes to packing lunches. It also makes any desk lunch a little more exciting.)

I used Greek yogurt instead of the traditional yogurt because I like my raitas on the creamier side. A thicker yogurt base also makes it easier to prepare the parfait with neater layers.

To make the cilantro-mint chutney:

1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and julienned
2 thai green chili peppers
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup cold water, or a bit more
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

Place the mint, cilantro, ginger, and chili peppers into a blender (or a jar if you're using an immersion blender). Squeeze in the lime juice and add the water and salt. Blend until the ingredients form a smooth paste. You might need to add a little more water to the paste or occasionally stir the ingredients to get them moving in the blender. 

Use the chutney immediately, or refrigerate, covered and airtight, until needed. 

To make the cucumber mint raita:

2 cups plain whole milk Greek yogurt 
1/2 cup cold water, or a bit more to loosen
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cucumber, peeled and grated
1 Thai chili pepper, thinly sliced, for garnish

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, water, salt and pepper until completely combined. Refrigerate until needed. 

Squeeze the grated cucumber in a cheesecloth or double thickness of paper towel to remove excess liquid. (Reserve the liquid for another use, if desired. I either drink it or add it to chilled juices.)

To finish: 

Parfait-style: Assemble 4 to 6 (5- to 6-ounce) glass jars. Spoon the chilled Greek yogurt mixture halfway up the glass. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the grated cucumber on top. Layer with more yogurt, stopping half an inch from the top of the jar. Finish with 2 generous tablespoons of the cilantro-mint chutney, and garnish with a few of the sliced chilies and a more grated cucumber, if desired. Continue with the remaining jars. Serve very cold.

Bowl-style: Or,  in a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the cilantro-mint chutney with the chilled yogurt base and the cucumber. Stir gently. Garnish with the thinly sliced chilies. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, until very cold.

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Words, Recipe + Photograph  © Nik Sharma