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Yogurt and Spinach with Five Seasonings (Palak Raita)
Crushed mustard seeds are commonly used in water-based marinated vegetable pickles to add tang and color. Seldom have I seen them added uncooked to a dish as a seasoning. The unusual combination of uncooked spices, including asafetida, is what makes this raita outstanding. It is distinctive enough to stand on its own and makes a highly nutritious light lunch combined with one of the more substantial Indian breads, such as parathas.
4 cups plain yogurt 1 L
1 cup well-drained chopped 250 mL
1 tsp crushed mustard seeds (see Tip, left) 5 mL
1⁄2 tsp cumin powder 2 mL
1⁄2 tsp granulated sugar 2 mL
1⁄4 tsp asafetida (hing) 1 mL
1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper 1 mL
1⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 mL
3⁄4 tsp salt or to taste 4 mL
1. Stir yogurt in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Stir in spinach. Add mustard seeds, cumin, sugar, asafetida, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. Mix well.
2. Cover and chill well before serving. (Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
Crush mustard seeds in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
Recipes reprinted with permission from Easy Indian Cooking, by Suneeta Vaswani, Robert Rose Inc., 2004. Photos by Mark T. Shapiro.