Paalak Raita, an Indian name for a cooked salad or dip called Spinach Raita. A raita is a condiment made especially in India using raw or cooked vegetables and dahi (curds/yoghurt), sometimes using fresh fruits or boondi which are small drops of fried chickpea flour. It is generally served with biryanis in restaurants.
The closest word in Western culture for Raita can be a dip or cooked salad. As the core ingredient of a raita is curd, it has a cooling effect to contradict the spiciness of kebabs or tikkas or even biryanis. In south India a raita is called pachadi. Similarly in Maharashtra, it called koshimbir. A raita also consists of some aromatic Indian spices like cumin powder, chaat masala etc. which only increases it’s flavour.
Now let’s discuss paalak or spinach. A leafy vegetables known for it’s innumerable health benefits and rich in antioxidants too, paalak is extremely nutritious for our health. Low in calories but packed with nutrients, spinach is becoming more and more prevalent on the salad bar. It’s versatility makes it easily adaptable in vegetable smoothies, or can be added to soups or a stir fry, or as a sauteed side dish! In short, Spinach is loaded with good things for every part of our body.
Here I am presenting a very different but simple and delicious raita i.e. Paalak Raita. The Paalak is cooked and then the curd and seasoning is added. Though it is a raita, I have always relished it with chapatis as a vegetable. Yes, it tastes too delicious with chapatis. But my mom likes it as a side dish with daal rice and some vegetables! As they say, tastes differ! Yeah, and again it’s my mom who taught me this recipe. But the important thing here is that this raita can easily be substituted for a vegetable! And yes, it’s a healthy dish for the diabetics too as they can simply substitute stevia for the sugar and this raita needn’t necessarily be on the sweeter side!
If you like spinach and biryanis too, here are some recipes for the same. Do check them out!
2) Paalak Daal
Here’s the recipe to a light, fresh, delicious and healthy raita, PAALAK RAITA!
Prep Time : 20 min
Cooking Time : 15-20 min
Serves : 2
- 3 cups Chopped Fresh Paalak (Spinach – approximately a small bunch and a half)
- 5 tbs Thick Fresh Homemade Curd
- 3 tsp Sugar …. To be adjusted as per preference
- 1/4 Salt … To be adjusted
For the tempering :
- 1 tbs Oil
- 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
- 1 Green Chilly
- To make the Paalak Raita, first clean the Paalak using it’s raw stems too. Immerse in sufficient salted water for about 20 minutes. This will bring the worms if any, to the top surface of the water.
- Wash it thoroughly and drain well.
- Chop the Paalak finely and the green chilly into small pieces.
- Heat a pan, and add the oil to it. Add the cumin only when the oil is hot enough. Immediately add the asafoetida and the chopped green chilly.
- Add the chopped paalak and about 1/4 tsp salt.
- Saute on high flame.
- The paalak will soon start releasing water. Keep sauteeing till all the water evaporates. The mixture will reduce to a lump measuring approximately 1 medium bowl.
- Cool this cooked paalak mixture to room temperature. Make sure that the paalak mixture is not even lukewarm, but completely cooled down while mixing with curd as it will spoil the whole taste of the raita.
- Just before serving add to it the curd, sugar and mix well. More salt will probably not be needed. If at all required, some more curd can be added, but then do adjust the seasoning accordingly.
- Serve with chapatis and vegetables or with Varan or Daali Toay and hot steamed rice during lunch or dinner.
This raita is my personal favourite and I have always relished it with chapatis. It’s quite light on the stomach and is quite refreshing during the summers or at any other given time. It’s a welcome change from the regular paalak recipes. It’s apt for tiffins too as the cooled Paalak and sweetened curd can be separately carried in airtight tiffins and assembled just before lunch.
One thing about this recipe is that, if you wish to make this raita for more than two people then I would suggest you buy more than 2 bunches of paalak. This is because 1 bunch gives only a medium bowl of raita. And if you really like it, let me warn you that this might too prove to be less! Do give it a try. It’s very simple, quick and easy to cook.