Recipe and Discussion: Raita or Tsatsiki?

So today I was strolling through the isles of Balducci's with my grocery list/mise en place for my morning client. I rolled across cucumber, sour cream, yogurt, cilantro...and immediately remembered 'raita' as one of the garnishes I was making.....An hour later I am at my clients and am prepping for their dishes and am going through my mise en place list again and I notice at the top of my 'what I thought was raita' list was actually tsatsiki sauce? So the ingredients are so similar, I started to ponder what where the regional differences between these?

  • Raita: -An indian or hindu side dish, usually composed of yogurt (cows milk), chopped cucumbers and spices. (Princeton); Historical or cultural notes-Usually yogurt based, with chopped cucumbers, it can also include other dried fruits (currants) or veggies (onions) and almost also has other cooling effects (mint/cilantro) to help as a 'cooler' on the palate when enjoyed with hot indian curries.
  • Tsatsiki: def-An greek or turkish appetizer, sauce or dip, usually composed of yogurt (sheep or goats milk) with pureed and strained or finely diced cucumber, lots of garlic and mint (Princeton); Historical or cultural-A whole head of garlic is often used for a serving of 4, it can also include dill, mint, black olives and a few tablespoons of olive oil and/or vinegar is added for flavor. It is often enjoyed with pita bread. Its enjoyed mostly as a thick dip, but is a key component of a gyro or a drizzling sauce for kebobs.
  • You could even go as far as comparing these to....djadjik (Iraq) or Cacik (Armenian)....The comparisons are endless, like the cucumber or mint, but the differences depend on many factors. For instance the historical usage of goats in greek culture as the main stay in using goats yogurt in traditional tsatsiki. Or perhaps even the intensity of the climate in Armenian or even Iraq gives this sauce or soup as extra plus, because it acts as a cooling aid during the hot days. So what did I end up making? Well, tsatsiki...with a little twist of cacik and raita.

Recipe: Tsatsiki

(serves 1 as side dish or 2-3 as garnish or accompaning sauce):

  • 1/4 c. spanish onion, brunoise
  • 1 peeled, deseeded and diced European cucumber
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1/4 c. cow's milk plain yogurt
  • 3 T. chopped cilantro
  • 1 T. freshlty ground and toasted cumin
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • zest from 1/2 lime

Just combine ingredients and enjoy!

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