Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tomato and Red Onion Raita (Tomato-Red Onion Salad With Yogurt)

This dish is simplicity itself. It is absolutely essential to use the freshest, ripest tomatoes - so it is a great salad to make in the summertime when tomatoes are abundant. The taste of sun-ripened tomatoes, the crunchy bite of red onions and the fragrant cilantro with its citrus overtones - mmm, it is to live for :)! And the freshly roasted cumin adds its nutty, spice magic that marries everything together. We came across some friends whom we hadn't seen in about 15-20 years and the first thing they did was to reminisce about how much they enjoyed this raita :)...... Truly unforgettable!


4 Ripe Tomatoes
1 Red Onion
1 JalapeƱo Chili (Optional)
1 small bunch Cilantro
2 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds
1 cup Thick Yogurt
1/2 cup Sour Cream
Salt to taste


Peel the onion, rinse and pat dry with a paper towel; cut in half end to end and slice crosswise thinly into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle a pinch of salt over them. Wash and dry the chili if using, cut in half lengthwise, remove the core with the seeds and membranes with a small spoon, and slice thinly. Mix the chili with the onion slices. Let marinate while preparing the rest.

Toast the cumin seeds in a small skillet without any oil until lightly browned and fragrant. Pour onto a small plate and let cool.

Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut in half, remove and discard the stem end, and slice into bite size pieces. Sort, wash, and dry the cilantro. Remove about an inch or two of the stem end, stack neatly, and slice finely.

Crush the cooled cumin seeds in a mortar with the pestle to grind coarsely.

Mix the yogurt and sour cream and combine thoroughly with the tomatoes, onions, salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp), half of the ground cumin and most of the cilantro. Sprinkle the rest of the cumin over the raita along with rest of the cilantro. Let sit for about 10 minutes to develop the flavors. Tomatoes get too cold and lose flavor upon refrigeration
so it is best if served within an hour of preparation. Serve with any rice dishes such as pulav, any Indian breads, dosa, adai, and/or curries.

Serve as a cool salad or side dish or appetizer with other main dishes if you wish.

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