Mama’s Punjabi Recipes – Boondi ya Aaloo Raita (Chickpea Drop Or Potato Yogurt Sauce)


Raita can loosely be translated as thinned yogurt dip – though it is not to be eaten as a dip – or a sauce, which it is used as often. The taste depends on the way the yogurt is thinned down, the ingredients and the dishes it complements. Many people use water to thin the yogurt down but all too often it is thinned down so much that is loses its consistency and becomes a gravy, like the type that is poured over kebabs, in Gyros or in pita bread wraps.

Raita is known and eaten all over India and it is important to understand that it is not a condiment but a complement to most Indian foods. It helps to soften the taste – and sometimes the spiciness – of the dish. When it is thicker, it can be served with bhalle (fried lentil balls) and eaten as a separate dish with its own condiments. When it is thinned down a lot with cold water and milk and mixed with spices, it can be drunk like lassi (buttermilk).

So it is important that true raita must have the right consistency and that can be eaten with roti, paranthas or chawal (rice) without running all over the plate but stick to the breads and rice.

Raita is usually made with an ingredient that adds flavor to the otherwise bland taste of plain dahi (yogurt). Depending on the taste desired and the other main dishes on the table, there are many types of ingredients that can be added. There are many types of raita and the two below – boondi (chickpea flour drops) and aaloo (potato) are the most popular. I will present other types of vegetable raitas later.

Boondi raita is very popular in the Punjab and the chief ingredient is the boondi which nowadays can be bought in a packet. In the old days, we would make the boondi by pouring the besan (chickpea flour) masala through a chanani (perforated flat ladle) into a karai (wok) of hot vegetable oil. It would take only a few minutes for the drops to fry and turn yellowish-brown.


•  500gm saddi dahi (plain yogurt)

•  1-25gm pkt of boondi (chickpea flour drops)

•  ½ cup doodh (milk)

•  10 leaves of pudina (mint)

(cut in halves)

•  Spices to taste: namak (salt), mirch (red pepper)



1. Place the boodni in lukewarm water for 10 minutes. This allows the oil to wash out and also the boondi fluffs up.

2. Run through a strainer and let the boondi sit to drain well and cool down for 5 minutes.

3. Place the dahi in a bowl and stir it thoroughly adding the milk to it. Add the salt and pepper to taste and mix in the mint leaves.

4.    Throw in the boondi and mix well but gently so as not to break the boondi. Chill for 10 minutes and serve.

mamas recipe inside3

Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.