Cucumber raita with vegan yogurt and mustard

Autumn is a time for luscious produce.  Large, tender and fresh gourds are the hallmark of Autumn.  We find them throughout the year these days and it is getting difficult to know what is ‘in season’ and what is not, but, I can spot the healthy ones.  At this time of the year they do not squish nor are they spongy.  They are crisp and juicy.

P, was away on a short trip to his village.  His village is one of those old time villages that are fast getting wiped out.  It is close to a forest, has a few roads still waiting to be tarred, and there is this quaint tall and aged hill right behind the house, that is dotted with cashew and sandalwood trees.  It tells you that you are approaching the forest. The air is thick with natural earthy smells, and after a sudden shower, you will feel that a little bit of nature has come in to the house. In the front porch, used to stand a giant jackfruit tree, doubled over by the weight of its own fruits. I hear it has been cut to make way for a taxi to be parked. Sad.

The flooring in the house is of red oxide. There is no concrete fence to safeguard the house. Just some bushes and wire to hold them in line. On one side of the house is the kitchen garden. This is where the seasonal vegetables are grown. Unlike us, the village people do not get much variety. What is consumed, is what is in season. When he returned, P was armed with vegetables from the garden – one of each kind, all organic. A pumpkin (mathan / pooshnikkai), a large cucumber (vellarikkai), a yam (chenai) and some okra (vendakkai) have been battling with one another, vying for my attention ever since. The cucumber won today. It was large so I shared half with my cousin, G. She said she was going to use it in making ‘kootu‘. I wasn’t sure what I would do with mine till this morning.

I had a pot of cashew yogurt in the refrigerator, and since raita is something one misses as a vegan, I decided to make some and share with you. This is not your regular Indian raita – North, or South! It has strong tones of the West in fact, especially after generous additions of Megha’s pink mustard. My very talented friend Megha has been retailing some excellent bottled products for a little over a year now. She gave me a bottle of pink mustard last year to try and I loved it. It is only when Nivedita commented on my facebook page that I realized that it does have the Tamilian flavour of mustard. Some influences stick to you. 😀

I have told you before, that my father was always on the move being in a position that took him across the length and breadth of the Country. Well, you see, when you move around like I did, you pick up a little memory and a little taste from everywhere, and each one becomes a precious part of you. When they lived in Kolkata, I was really too young to know or perceive much, being a toddler, but somewhere I think a connection was being made. The love for mustard cannot be explained otherwise. Till last year, I thought it was only mustard oil that I loved in cooking. I used Megha’s mustard, and realized that I was wrong. Before that I had tried French and Dijon mustards and I did not like them. But the pink mustard made a convert of me. My first bottle got over and I replenished it with  a second one last week. And I made this.

Recipe: Cucumber raita with vegan yogurt and mustard
Yield : Serves a large soup bowl and a little more


Vegan yogurt – 1 cup, thick
Juice of a lemon, or more as per taste
Sea salt, finely ground – To taste
Pink organic mustard – 2 teaspoons (or use your favourite mustard)
Large, green, firm, Indian cucumber | Dosakaya | Vellarikkai | Kakdi | Kheera – 400g (grated with a large eyed grater)


Squeeze the grated cucumber retaining very little juice. Add yogurt, a teaspoon of lemon and half the mustard. Mix well. Taste and add more mustard, and lemon juice as preferred. I need that much mustard. Pink mustard is not very over powering, and it is a good thing to start with if you want to experiment.

When serving season adjust salt. Don’t look further. That’s it. The dish is done!

Serve as an accompaniment with pulav, or with roti and subzi. Pickled pink? 🙂


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Soma

    Lovely post. My hometown in India is not a remote village, but it had it’s own charateristics. A French colony and a pretty town on the river Ganges. It is loosing its charm recently and it’s happening very fast. My memories will be soon wiped out with malls and big super markets (they are already there though). I miss my old home town.

    Vegan raita is pretty new to me and I can understand your love for mustard. I cannot think my kitchen without it.

    • Harini

      I do not have a ‘hometown’ as such. Bangalore comes the closest because I spent most of my childhood Summers there. I can imagine your town though. French colonies were beautifully maintained. Its sad that conveniences come at a price. I guess we just have to accept, and go on building new memories! I am not surprised you understand. A Bong should, I suppose. 😀

      • Soma

        Last time when I went to India, I have tried to take pictures of the places which are attached to my memories. Those will be my asset.

  • Bharathi

    I really enjoyed reading about the village. I Wanted it to go on and on…was most reluctant to reach the end…. Like how when u are watching a good movie you don’t want it to end. Any pics of the house and the village

    • Harini

      Bharathi, thank you! I love telling stories, and it makes me real happy when readers enjoy it, the way you did. 🙂 I will have to hunt around for the pictures. If I don’t find them, I will make sure I have pics when I visit next. 🙂

  • Jayashree

    Loved reading about your husband’s village. It’s sad that places when places like that make way for concrete jungles.

  • Megha

    Great way of using pink mustard! Thanks for the idea and recipe 🙂

  • Anjali

    Very interesting raita! Loved the way you describe P’s village. I remembered the story of you as a new bride and mustard oil 🙂

    I can really appreciate how you imbibed all that exposure to different cultural nuances, I feel like that with the cosmo environment I grew up in Mumbai sharing everyday life with my own Kolis, Gujjus, Parsi, Goans and South Indians. That is what makes us, those influences in early life.

    • Harini

      Thanks, Anjali. Fancy remembering that! What you say is so true! Early childhood and adolescence, both leave permanent impressions on us! 🙂

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