The Little Side Dish That Could by Sania Saeed

There are two types of people in society: people who like condiments, and people who like dry food. I am in the latter category. I can eat an entire bag of chips with no sauce, dip, or other condiments. Having said that, dairy has always been my weakness, so I do make exceptions for yogurt and melted cheese in all their forms.

Raita is traditionally yogurt mixed with cucumber, mint, and cilantro. It is served as a side for main rice dishes. Whenever I eat biryani or pulao at home, I slather it practically all over the entire dish. When I get takeout, there is never enough in the container.

Recently, I have been eating some iteration of raita for both breakfast and snacks throughout the day. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so smoothie bowls don’t really do it for me.

Below are three ways to add raita to your repertoire, as an excellent addition to chips, crackers, bread, or on its own. These “yogurt bowls” satisfy my savoury palate without requiring running to the store for ingredients I may not typically have.

What corners am I cutting? 

  • Buying one plain tub of yogurt and splitting it multiple ways to make different flavour combinations. This saves it from spoiling before I can finish it all, or buying specialty or flavoured yogurt.
  • Using pantry ingredients and spices. Trust me, there are gems hiding in there. 
  • Spare end of an onion? An awkward quarter of a cucumber? Leftover veggies from salads or other dishes go to a good home this way.


Time: 5-10 minutes 


● Plain yogurt, around 300 g., split 3 ways. 

Combo 1

Combo 1: 

■ 1 or ½ cucumber

■ 1-2 tbsp. Honey

■  Your choice of a handful of seeds or nuts. I used sunflower seeds, but walnuts would be my second choice. 

■  A pinch of cardamom powder or cinnamon powder (optional)

Combo 2

Combo 2: 

■ Baby tomatoes, a handful 

■ 1 Thai red chili 

■ 1-2 tbsp. Tahini

■ 1-2 tsp. lemon 

■ Salt, pinch

Combo 3

Combo 3: 

■ 30-50 g. chickpeas 

■ Red onion, amount to taste 

■ Pinch coriander 

■ 1-2 tsp. Chaat masala 

■ 1tsp. Chilli powder

■ 1 tsp. Garam masala 

■ Salt, pinch 

■ 1-2 tsp. Lemon


For Combo 1, pour out approx. 100 grams of yogurt into a serving bowl. If using the cardamom or cinnamon powder, make sure to mix it with the yogurt before adding the ingredients, so it spreads evenly. 

Slice small pieces of cucumber and add on top of the yogurt. Generously squeeze on some honey and a handful of seeds or nuts. This is best served as breakfast or an early morning snack. It’s crunchy, hydrating, and has just a little bit of sweetness. 

For Combo 2, pour out approx. 100 grams of yogurt into a serving bowl. Slice baby tomatoes in half and add on top of the yogurt. Mince the Thai red chilli, and sprinkle on top. Deseed the chillies if you are worried about the spice level! 

Squeeze the tahini and lemon on top, add a sprinkle of salt, and give the bowl a good mix. The tomatoes will make the yogurt a little bit watery, so this goes best with naan or toast, as to really soak up all the flavours. 

For Combo 3, pour out approx. 100 grams of yogurt into a serving bowl. Toss the chickpeas, chilli powder, garam masala, and salt together and add on top of the yogurt. Chop the red onion into small pieces and toss with lemon and salt and then add into the yogurt bowl. 

Garnish with a pinch of coriander (fresh or dry) and sprinkle chaat masala generously, to add a tang – tajín would do the trick too. This combination goes best with something super crunchy, like tortilla chips or pita chips.

More on Sania’s Work:

Not Your Nani’s Qorma (Issue 6)

Sania is a Pakistani freelance writer and editor who is passionate about seasoning her food, the Oxford comma, and creating painfully curated Spotify playlists. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit with a focus in race and post-colonial studies, and wants to fill the gaps where she doesn’t see herself represented in writing and media.

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