Staying cool

Mallika Basu - Staying cool

Posted 9th August 2007

aubergine-raita.jpgInner city summer. London. What an adventure.

I start the day under someone’s armpit on the underground. Try and grab proper lunch at the only al fresco diner and fail. Drink warm Pimms squashed against a wall outside my local pub after work. And finally share the city’s green spots with half of London’s 7.5 million inhabitants at the weekend.

Unless I am lucky enough to get away for the weekend or even longer. With the remaining half of the population.

Truthfully, I can’t wait for my long weekend in Cannes, South of France. But until then, food is the only respite. And I will stay committed to the simple classics that breathe cool into Indian cuisine.

Raita is one of them. A ice-cold, savoury dish, raita is spiced yogurt with vegetables and even eggs. You can have cucumber and mint raita, mixed vegetable raita, boondi raita and potato raita. It’s almost always served as a side dish in my family home in Kolkata to complete summer meals.

I made aubergine raita recently. A simple assembly job, the bit that takes time is the frying of aubergines. My simple trick is to soak the sliced aubergines in cold water for up to two hours if you can. Their pores soak up the water, helping them cook quickly in oil later, while spluttering furiously.

This recipe serves 4:

2 medium aubergines (eggplants), sliced into 1 cm thick discs

500 gm low fat natural yogurt

Half tsp chilli powder

1 tsp whole cumin

Half tsp coriander powder

Half tsp black salt (Kala Namak) or plain white salt

Pinch of Mango powder (amchoor)

4 tablespoons sunflower oil

Soak the aubergine in cold water. In a small pan, roast the cumin seeds over a high flame for two minutes.

As soon as you can smell them, take the pan off the flame and grind the cumin to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar or grinder.

Fry the aubergine in batches, adding a little oil at a time. You want the aubergines to be well cooked on either side, soft and dark.

Now layer them so they part overlap each other in two rows in a one-inch deep dish that is just about big enough to hold them.

Spoon over the plain yogurt and sprinkle all the powders evenly on top. Chill for at least 20 minutes before serving.

This could accompany almost anything, but you will find yourself eating it just on its own…

21 responses to “Staying cool”

  1. Poonam says:

    This is cool, Mallika! Eggplant is my favorite!

  2. Asha says:

    Started the day under somebody’s armpit in the Tube!! In this heat!!! Ewww!!!!:D
    You need that Raita after that. Looks yum! Here is what I do instead of frying those Eggplants.

    Spray a non-stick baking sheet,spread the slices in single layer,sprinkle some salt and spray the top lightly again.Bake at 350F for 45mins or at 400F for 20-30mins.Try once and see how you like it.Saves time,less oil to fry!:)

  3. anusharaji says:

    thats one beautiful raita mallika
    next time vl soak earlier….t 🙂
    i like asha’s tip too 😉

  4. Lakashmi says:

    My first time here and loved that raita. You really need that after starting your day in someones armpit in the tube!!! 😉

  5. jules says:

    loving the idea of your aubergine raita…great idea to soak it first before frying..imagine it will stop it sucking up all the oil…

  6. sandeepa says:

    I had this raita once and have been looking for the recipe since…going to serve it at thee next dinner maybe

  7. Mallika says:

    Great tip Asha. I have tried it like that, but the problem is that you don’t get the crunchy, overcooked texture that complements the cold yogurt. Still it is a healthier and simpler option.

  8. Dee says:

    Love this raita mallika, its my mom’s quick fix for dinner

  9. Meena says:

    This looks fairly interesting, never had anything like it before! I LOVE eggplant, and this is sure gonna be on my to-try list this week. Have an awesome weekend! 🙂

  10. Planethalder says:

    As much as I love your recipes, Mallika, I itch to read more about your London life too – oh so tantalisingly hinted at in the first paragraphs only! Perhaps another blog? Anyway, thanks for your comment – I love love love your blog!

  11. sia says:

    LOL @ I start the day under someone’s armpit on the underground. i enjoy coming to ur blog for ur humourous posts and simple ‘n delicious recipes mallika. hope i have mentioned this before:)
    now coming to recipe, this is the first time i have come across eggplant raita and now i cant wait to try this for myself(yeah, hubby is allergic to eggplants). i have found smooth, silky white eggplant from farmer’s market. i guess it will look beautiful served this way:)

  12. […] are eggplant raitas, potato raitas, onion-chickpea raitas, carrot-tomato raitas, banana raitas, mango raitas and […]

  13. Mangs says:

    cut them in circle thingies, right. the photu makes them look like delicious squares. im all set to make the posto btw. poppy seeds translates as….? in tamil gasgasse, but halal man won’t understand. he tried to pass off fennell as jeera seeds today.

  14. Mallika says:

    Mangs – circles are the way to go. But they get a bit wonky when you fry them. Posto translates as kus-kus or khus-khus. But the halal man sounds pretty mad!

  15. Shella says:

    Have heard so many varieties of Raita but never an eggplant one. I bet it will be good.

    Will surely try it out.

  16. lakshmi says:

    That looks heavenly, ideal for Madras – besides, there is aubergine waiting in the fridge

  17. manjit says:


    Very nice & looking very tempting. I will difenately try this on sunday.


  18. Cindy says:

    We made this recipe recently (teamed with some spinach kofta) and enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any amchoor at my local Indian grocery, but might mail-order some for next time. Thanks for the recipe, Mallika!

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  20. […] low fat, natural variety works best for things like Raita or Lassi. I’ve tried mixing flour/cornflour into it and straining to thicken further – but it […]

  21. […] cucumber, kachumbar (finely chopped mixed salad), anda (my favourite egg raita), aloo (potatoes), aubergine and boondi (made with little deep fried gram flour balls). The principles are pretty much the same: […]

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