Raita With Browned Onions and Greens

Here is another recipe using browned onions that is not a curry, which I made the other night.

Raita is one of my favorite Indian dishes: yogurt-based, and served cold, it can be considered a salad, a relish, a side dish, a soothing breakfast, or a simple meal on its own with rice or bread, and dal. It is cooling, and is great for the digestion. Yogurt is good for children and elderly people whose digestion may not be as strong, but really, it is good for anyone. The lactobacillus which ferments the milk and turns it into yogurt is a bacteria which is beneficial to our digestive system, and so it makes sense that eating yogurt will help our innards do their jobs more efficiently.

Most Americans are most familiar with raita made from raw cucumbers, tomatoes and perhaps raw onions, or maybe with shredded cooked potatoes and shredded raw carrots. There are many other types of raita, however, I when I made this one, I thought to myself that I had seen a recipe for one (perhaps it was in Yamuna Devi’s excellent vegetarian cookbooks, Lord Krishna’s Cuisine) that included cooked winter greens, onions, and whole mustard and cumin seeds tempered in ghee.

Since I had the browned onions, and in my refrigerator was a combination of kale and collards, I thought I would saute those along with cumin and mustard toasted in ghee, and add them all to yogurt.

This combination is particularly tasty, as the browned onions bring out the sweetness inherent in the greens, and the spices compliment the deeper, darker bitter flavors of the greens without making them overpowering. It is a delicious and delectable balance that is brought together by the creamy nature of the yogurt, but before the raita is made, you have to work with the yogurt to make it perfectly smooth and silky.

When you first take yogurt out of its carton or the vessel in which it was made, it is lumpy and curd-like. You need to whisk it thoroughly to break up the lumps. Eventually, after a minute or two of fast whisking, the yogurt will smooth out into a creamy thick liquid that will be the perfect medium for your greens and onion raita.

This was great with the pillau and grilled chicken for dinner, but I have to admit that I like it by itself, straight out of the fridge for breakfast!

Raita With Browned Onions and Greens


3 tablespoons canola oil or ghee
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
3 cups mixed winter greens, washed and dried, big veins removed and cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 cups full fat yogurt


In a heavy-bottomed wide, deep frying pan, heat the oil or ghee. Add the onions, and following the instructions here, brown them thoroughly. When they are nearly done, sprinkle the cumin and mustard seeds into the pan, and add the greens. When the mustard seeds pop and the greens wilt and turn bright green, sprinkle them with salt and stir well. Remove from heat.

Whisk the yogurt until perfectly smooth, then stir the contents of the pan into the yogurt, mixing well. Taste for salt and correct if necessary, then cover tightly and put into the fridge to chill for at least an hour before you eat it.


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  1. I wonder if soy yogurt substitute would work just as well? I substituted before and usually it works, but not always.

    Comment by vegoftheweek — March 26, 2008 #

  2. Looks delicious. I love raita too.

    When your recipes say mustard seeds, does it matter if they are black or yellow ones?

    Comment by bread and roses — March 26, 2008 #

  3. I have no idea if soy yogurt would work–just give it a try and see what happens. I don’t eat soy products other than tofu, soy sauce and fermented bean pastes and beans, so I am probably a bad person to ask.

    I usually use black seeds. When I say mustard seeds in a recipe, they are always black.

    Comment by Barbara — March 26, 2008 #

  4. Hey nice recipe. I cant wait t try this now.You have got great stuff in ur site. i would love to read them all.. 🙂

    Comment by Anjali J. — March 27, 2008 #

  5. This is really interesting – and a great way to work more greens into the diet!

    Comment by Fearless Kitchen — March 28, 2008 #

  6. I’ve only ever made the version of raita with cucumbers before and had no idea there were several different kinds. I love the idea of caramelized onions in raita! Thanks for the tip.


    Comment by ejm — April 2, 2008 #

  7. wow, this recipe is very similar to mine :), which I created as fast vegetable side dish then I did’t have time to cook vegetable curry. Only instead of greens I use green or red bell pepper and add cilantro leaves. It tastes marvelous!

    Comment by Larisa — June 30, 2008 #

  8. This is now one of our favorite Indian things to eat. We make it with spinach. Thank you so very much!

    Comment by Olga — October 27, 2008 #

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