Cucumber raita is an Indian side or dip made with yogurt, fresh cucumbers, herbs and spices. Cucumber raita is one of the most commonly made accompaniment to go with a biryani, pulao or any Indian meal. A basic raita is made of yogurt, mild spice powders and favorite veggies or fruits. Onions, tomatoes, cucumber are few veggies that are often used.
Cucumber raita is refreshing, cooling and comforting to the palate. Though there are many other kinds of raita like onion raita, mint raita and boondi raita, Cucumber raita is much preferred to go with a spicy biryani, especially during summers.
Cucumbers are naturally cooling to the body, so a cucumber raita tones down the heat in your meal. It is simple to make and all you need is basic ingredients used in Indian cooking.
Making a good thick and delicious cucumber raita is easy if you choose the right ingredients.
Use fresh long cucumbers preferably those without seeds. Avoid using sour cucumbers. You may peel them if you prefer. I usually peel them and chop to bite sized pieces. You can also grate using a grater that has slightly large holes.
If you prefer to keep the skin then choose English cucumbers or Japanese cucumbers as they have thinner skin & don’t need to be peeled. Indian cucumbers usually have tougher skin so they are peeled and then cubed or grated.
This is a picture of the thin skinned cucumbers which are good to use in a cucumber raita if you prefer to keep the skin.
Here is a picture of the Indian cucumber. I use these as well in my raita. I prefer to peel and then chop them finely. Sometimes these may also have those hard seeds meaning those are mature cucumbers.
If you want to use something like this simply deseed and use them. But the young cucumber are best for raita. Sometimes the mature ones also tend to be bitter tasting.
Any kind of Indian raita is minimally spiced as it is usually served to tone down the heat of a meal & neutralize the palate. However cucumber raita tastes bland if not spiced at all. So a moderate amount is the key here.
Cumin: A sprinkle of roasted cumin powder on the cucumber raita not only elevates the flavors but also aids digestion.
Black pepper or green chilli: To add some heat either chopped green chilli peppers or crushed black pepper can be used. Most times I use the black pepper to make it kids’ friendly.
Chaat masala: In restaurants usually some red chilli powder and chaat masala are sprinkled on top. Apart from garnishing these also elevate the flavors. Chaat masala is a spice powder made with black pepper, dried ginger, black salt, dried mango powder and asafoetida.
Coriander leaves is the most commonly used herb in a raita. However I also prefer to add few very young mint leaves as they aid in digestion and enhance the flavors.
In Indian homes, most people make thick fresh curd/yogurt regularly. Use fresh thick yogurt that is not sour. I use this homemade yogurt. You can also use store bought plain greek yogurt.
How to make cucumber raita
1. Add thick yogurt to a mixing bowl. Very runny yogurt with lot of whey is not suitable to make this cucumber raita. Chopped cucumbers will let out moisture and make the raita more runny. If you do not have thick yogurt then you may strain the whey following this hung curd recipe.
2. Whisk it well with a fork or a hand whisk until smooth. We want a smooth yogurt here. Add salt and black pepper. You may also add cumin powder and chaat masala at this stage. But I prefer to keep it for the garnish.
3. Mix well and taste test at this stage. If your yogurt is too sour, you can balance it with very little sugar at this step but otherwise it is not required. We don’t want to sweeten the cucumber raita. We just want to balance the taste.
4. Rinse cucumbers well and peel them if you don’t want to keep the skin.
5. You can chop to bite sized pieces or grate them to your liking. Grated cucumber is going to make the raita runny, so grate only if you are using greek yogurt.
6. Also deseed and chop the green chilies. You may skip them if you don’t prefer heat in your raita. The other option is to just add the whole slit green chili so the raita won’t become hot but will add some flavor. Also fine chop coriander leaves and mint if using.
7. Add the cucumbers, herbs and chilli. Mix well. I also add a teaspoon of ginger juice at this stage. Ginger aids digestion so we prefer it.
8. Mix all of them and then sprinkle roasted cumin powder and coriander leaves. If you want you can also add chaat masala and black pepper.
- Make cucumber raita fresh though you can make it a day ahead and chill in the refrigerator but the fresh one tastes best.
- If you want to make it ahead, the best way is to keep everything ready and mix them just before serving. Like chopping the cucumber, herbs, chilies and whisking the yogurt can be done ahead. Mix all of these just before serving. Then sprinkle all the spice powders.
- Usually cucumber raita is made with just cucumber as the main ingredient. However you may add other veggies like onions, tomatoes etc.
Though both are dips made with yogurt and cucumber as the main ingredient, Tzatziki is thicker than raita, flavoured with olive oil, garlic, kosher salt & lemon juice. But raita is thinner and does not use any of those but uses cumin powder for flavor.
It is good to make and serve cucumber raita fresh. Refrigerate it if you don’t intend to serve it sooner. Finish it before 24 hours as the flavor of cucumber in the raita begins to change.
Yes You can use any vegan yogurt to make it.
Cucumber raita recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup cucumber chopped
- 1½ cup yogurt (thick, more if needed)
- ¼ teaspoon salt as needed
- ½ teaspoon roasted ground cumin (jeera powder, refer notes)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper ( or cayenne pepper, adjust to taste)
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves (cilantro finely chopped)
- ½ teaspoon chaat masala (optional, for garnishing)
- 4 to 5 mint leaves (optional, finely chopped)
- 1 green chili pepper (seeded and chopped)
- Rinse cucumber and peel it. Chop to tiny bite size pieces (about ¼ to ½ inch). If you prefer you may even grate it. Grated cucumbers let out moisture so make sure you use only greek yogurt if you want to grate them. Otherwise cucumber raita becomes runny.
- Also fine chop coriander and mint leaves (optional).
- Deseed the green chilli and chop. (optional)
How to make cucumber raita
- Whisk chilled yogurt in a large mixing bowl.
- Add chopped cucumber, green chilies, coriander leaves, mint leaves and salt. Mix all of them.
- Taste test and add more salt if needed. Drizzle cumin powder, ground black pepper & chaat masala (optional).
- Cucumber raita is best served fresh but can be chilled for a few hours.
- Choose cucumbers with no seeds and are not sour tasting. If you prefer to keep the skin, use cucumbers that have thin skin. Cucumbers with tougher skin are better peeled. English cucumbers and Japanese cucumbers are best if you want to keep the peel.
- Sometimes cucumbers taste bitter for various reasons. The best way to remove the bitterness is to cut off both the ends (¾ inch slice). Rub it for a few minutes against the other part until a white froth like substance comes out. Do this on both the ends. Rinse well and taste it. If you still feel bitter, then it is good not to use it in your raita.
- This recipe needs roasted cumin powder. If you do not have it, dry roast cumin seeds on a low heat until aromatic. Cool and powder them in a small spice jar or use a mortar pestle. It is difficult to make this in little quantity so you can make 1/4 cup of this powder at one time and store it in your refrigerator. Sprinkle this over raita or even plain yogurt. This aids digestion.
- Use fresh thicke yogurt that doesn’t taste too sour.
- Chaat masala is an Indian spice powder made with black pepper, dried ginger, black salt, dried mango powder and asafoetida. It is easily available in Indian stores.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
This cucumber raita recipe post was first published in March 2015. Updated & republished in January 2021.