Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spinach Raita (The "other" warm spinach salad)

Before we bid adieu to the winter (finally!), here’s another warm spinach salad recipe for those crisp “almost spring” days. This is actually a spinach raita (or koshimbir), which is an Indian yogurt salad. You can make raita with a lot of different ingredients, and it is typically eaten along with roti or rice as a cool and creamy condiment which goes well with spicy Indian food. Not a lot of raitas are “warm” salads, but my sister introduced me to this extremely delicious spinach raita with a cumin tadka (tempering), and now its one of my favorite salads! I have made a few modifications to adjust to my liking - I like my salads crispier because I typically pack them as a side with my lunch for work, and don’t eat it with roti. So I added onions to her recipe for extra crispiness and also reduced the cooking time for spinach. Whichever way you make it, its a delicious salad with a strong cumin flavor.


2 cups fresh spinach leaves
½ cup roughly chopped onion (optional)
2 cloves garlic sliced (optional)
½ tsp oil
¼ tsp cumin seeds
⅛ tsp asafoetida/hing powder (optional - but gives a nice aroma especially if using onions. See note)
1 dry red chili pepper (optional) - broken in half (I also removed seeds to reduce the heat)
2 tbsp thick yogurt (or more depending on how creamy you like it) - I used 2% reduced fat Greek yogurt
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and red chili once the oil is hot. Add the asafoetida powder, quickly followed by the onion and garlic. Add salt, and saute for just a little bit so that the raw onion taste is gone but it still keeps the crunch. At this point take the pan off the heat. Transfer the onion, garlic mixture to a bowl. Add spinach to the bowl and mix well. This wilts the spinach just a little, but still has a bite. If you would prefer a creamier version, you can add spinach to the pan once the onions are a little soft and saute for a minute or so before transferring the mixture to a bowl. Mix in the yogurt and enjoy as a snack on its own, or served with roti or a nice pita sandwich with homemade lentil patty and hummus!


Asafoetida, or hing is an herb used extensively in Indian cooking to enhance flavor and aid digestion. It can be found in any Indian store.
If you’re like me and don’t like a lot of heat, you can take the red chili pepper out before mixing the yogurt. If left in, it keeps adding heat - which works well if you like that kick.

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