July 22, 2021. Raita is a refreshing yogurt dip that’s usually served with spicy Indian foods and kebabs. It cools things down in your mouth. The yogurt is tart; the cucumber is slightly sweet; the mint is, you know, minty fresh. The cumin and coriander (cilantro) are fragrant. The garlic is … garlic. It’s great with spicy foods. Equally great with anything from the grill.
When you freeze it in a popsicle mold, things get turned around. Now it’s something you dip in your mouth. Something delicious and refreshing on its own. Other things go great with it. Take a lick, then a bite of raw carrot. Or a burger.
Like my gazpacho popsicles, these frozen raita pops are great for parties. Easy for everybody to deal with, hand-held like a hot dog or an ice cream cone. But with a sense of humor. Great ingredients. And a couple of things that make you keep on licking.
If you have a hard time putting down a non-empty pint of ice cream because there’s just something about that coldness in your mouth, this’ll do the same thing for you. Or to you. If you’re someone who responds the same way to a little bit of garlic on your bread or anything else, this dinner popsicle is a double whammy.
You chop up some cucumber and herbs and puree them with yogurt in a blender or food processor. You pour the puree into some sort of freezer-proof mold, stick a stick in the puree and put it in the freezer. Five minutes or less to prepare. Three or four hours to freeze solid.
I used these convenient, reusable plastic (no BPA) popsicle molds. Six of them plus their stand for $10. They’re going to get a lot of use this summer. I just ordered another set. Getting ready for a bigger party.
You should vary the balance of the ingredients, especially the garlic, to get the flavor you want. Here’s what I used for a test batch of three 5-ounce popsicles. Combine:
1 cup of cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup of yogurt (or 1/3-cup milk + 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt)
1/2 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4-teaspoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
12 big mint leaves
salt (or not, to taste)
Into the blender. Press Play. About 30 seconds to a smooth puree. Taste, adjust and process again, until you love it. Your popsicle will taste exactly like your puree. Just colder. And in a different order. I’ll explain in a minute.
Pour your puree into molds. Insert sticks. In the freezer for three or four hours. To get the popsicle out of the mold, run it under warm water for 15 or 30 seconds. It should slide right out. Then lick. And smile. And lick some more.
About the flavor order: when I eat raita as a room-temperature dip, the first flavors I get are the cool mint, the mildly sweet cucumber and sharp garlic, along with the tart yogurt. After that, I become more aware of the fragrant cumin and coriander. When I lick the popsicle version, the first things I sense are the cumin and then the coriander. After a while, I feel the mint and garlic as aftertastes.
Whatever you taste first or last, this is not an all-day sucker. But it does take about 15 minutes to finish. Makes you eat Slower. It just doesn’t melt any faster, even with continuous licking. Didn’t drip a drop on anything or anybody. If you’re a really Slower sucker, these popsicle molds have a base to catch the runoff.
If you’re throwing a party this summer, you really have to try these. I really think you could make a totally popsicle-centric meal. Gazpacho pops with corn chips. Raita pops with raw vegetables or fish, meat or vegetable kebabs.
Then onto the dessert popsicles. Strawberry-Rhubarb. Melon-ginger-mint. Banana-Strawberry. Very sweet. Zero sugar. Together with my savory pops, and maybe a piece of hand-holdable Onion Pizza, you’ve got a perfect party meal.
Less than 40 cents for a thoroughly tasty, refreshing vegetable course. A convenient, hand-held appetizer on a stick. Melts in your mouth, not your hands. One popsicle counts as half a vegetable serving.
Let’s Do The Math
19 calories per pop. Really. Burn them with 8 minutes of Frisbee. 4 minutes of walking. Go on. Have 2.
Every Thing Is Everything
Wanna reduce your carbon footprint in the kitchen? Eat more vegetables, less meat. Producing a pound of beef at an industrial feedlot produces 100 times more greenhouse gas than growing vegetables. (“How Meat Contributes to Global Warming”, Scientific American)
Wanna reduce your risk of cancer? The American Institute for Cancer Research’s Diet and Cancer Report advises planning meals around non-starchy vegetables and fruits. The report recommends “5 servings or more of vegetables and fruit daily because, like physical activity, they pack a double whammy against cancer. Probable evidence indicates they help reduce cancer risk on their own, and as low-energy-dense foods, they help maintain a healthy weight, which the evidence shows has a big influence on cancer risk”.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.
Buy your vegetables from a farmer. “In 2006, 19 cents of every dollar spent on U.S.-grown food went to the farmer for the raw food inputs …” (USDA Economic Research Service, 2008). The other 81 cents? Marketing and transportation.
Find a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)