Minty Cucumber Raita
1 medium cucumber
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ cup finely chopped mint leaves
1 tablespoon neutral oil
½ teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
5 to 8 fresh curry leaves (1 inch or longer; optional)
Prepare the salad: Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds, and coarsely grate it on a box grater. Place it in a colander and give it a squeeze to remove some of the excess water. If you like your raita chunkier, you can finely chop your cucumber instead.
In a medium serving bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, ground cumin, a few grinds of black pepper, the cayenne, salt, and mint and stir well. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator until just prior to serving.
Give the raita a stir as the salt may have drawn out some of the cucumber’s water. If you like your raita loose, now is the time to stir in a tablespoon or two of water to get the consistency you like.
Make the tarka: Assemble your measured ingredients by the stove. In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop, occasionally swirling the pan. Add the cumin seeds, swirl the pan, and sizzle for a few seconds. Add the curry leaves and, when they have crackled for a few seconds, pour the tarka over the raita, stir, and serve.