Mama’s Punjabi Recipes – Tamater te Piyaaz da Raita (Tomato & Onion Yogurt Dip)

RECIPE-INBy popular demand, here is a reprint of Mama’s Tamater te Piyaaz da Raita recipe, which is a tasty recipe for the summer months to eat with rice biryani, sabzi (vegetables) or simply with paranthas (crispy flatbreads). It is reprinted with some additional information and directions.

Yogurt (dahin) has a special significance in Indian culture and religion. It is considered sacred and a purifying agent because of the relationship of cowmilk with many Hindu rituals and because yogurt, or curds as many Indian call it, were eaten up by the baby Lord Krishna.

Fresh clay praats (flat saucers) of yogurt with a thick layer of congealed cream on top are readily available at the halwai’s (sweet maker’s) shop all across most Indian cities though modern diaries now sell yogurt in white plastic pouches at kiosks. The taste of fresh halwai yogurt is very similar to the Greek yogurt that is so popular these days.

Yogurt has medicinal value too: it is quickly soothing in the blazing Indian summers, easily digested when eaten at lunchtime and should be avoided at night time. It is considered a good cure for severe diarrhea, especially when eaten with khichri (runny rice and lentils). Yogurt provides high protein content to a vegetarian diet.

Raita or yogurt dip or sauce is a byproduct of yogurt and is eaten all over India to complement and soften the taste – and sometimes the spiciness – of many Indian dishes. Raita must have the right consistency so that it doesn’t run all over the plate and can be eaten with roti, paranthas or chawal (rice).

Raita is a quick and simple dish to make with vegetables can take the place of a salad, which, for most Punjabi meals, is a very simple arrangement of tamater (tomatoes), piyaaz (onions) and hari mirch (green peppers) – all very basic and healthy condiments to make the raita.


• 500gm saddi dahin (plain yogurt)

• ½ medium piyaaz (onion)

•1 medium tamater (tomato)

• ½ cup doodh (milk)

• 10 leaves pudina (mint) (cut in halves)

• ½ teaspoon jeera (cumin) – optional if you like the taste

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


1. Peel the onion and then chop into small pieces. Wash the tomato and likewise chop into small pieces. Set aside.

2. Place the dahin 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.

3. Roast some jeera seeds on a tava (flat plate), grind them and sprinkle on the raita.

4. Throw in the chopped tomato and onion and mix well but gently.
5. Chill for 10 minutes and serve.


Some cooks swear that they can’t live without their pressure cookers, using them to make daals (lentils), channe (chickpeas), potatoes and other items. But my experience is that the pressure cooker is overused by people in a hurry and the results can often be less than satisfactory. If left overdone, the daals and potatoes become too soft and mushy, become soups or mashed instead.

One thing to be careful about is that cooking potatoes in pressure cookers will usually leave a residue and stain the insides. Be sure to wash the vessel thoroughly so that it is clean and has no stain from the starch or for best results use steel wool scrubbers like Brillo pads.


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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 (since renamed Faisalabad) 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 late-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share her delectable Punjabi recipes for future generations.