Smoky Kefir Onion Raita

This delicious vegetarian onion raita with a smoky hint of toasted spices will blow thoughts of insipid cucumber and yogurt from your head. Ready in under five minutes, the kefir gives a lovely light tart touch.

If you’d prefer a more plant-based or vegan raita, or even whole 30, you can substitute the kefir yogurt out with thin cashew cream (not coconut milk, the flavor profile is all wrong). If you can’t get a hold of some kefir, you can use natural or Greek yogurt.

What is raita?

Raita is a traditional Indian side dish or condiment, normally made with yogurt, chopped vegetables or fruit, and spices. Outside of India most people seem to think that raita is always made with cucumber and regular thick yogurt, like a kind of tzatiki, but the truth is that in India there are dozens of types of raita.

Raita in Indian is normally of a thinner consistency than the raita I find in restaurants in Europe, made by whisking dahi. I have never been able to get to the bottom of the dahi/curd mystery, as some people swore it was curd, and others swore it was natural yogurt.

Either way, try whisking your natural yogurt next time you’re using it as an ingredient and you’ll see the texture thins out.

What can you serve raita with?

A small bowl of white dip surrounded by other dishes on a grey background

With the vast majority of Indian dishes. You can pour it on top of a hot curry, have it in a small dish on the side to be spooned on, or dip appetizers into it (Cauliflower pakora for example).

My favorite way to enjoy raita is with a my easy one-pot vegetable biryani. I have to admit to enjoying raita as well in lots of non-traditional ways. This easy onion raita is my favorite by far, and I like to use it as another curry over plain rice, because it is definitely tasty enough to stand alone and not just be used as a condiment.

I have also used it as a salad dressing, believe it or not it goes amazingly well with spinach strawberry salads!

How do you make onion raita?

This tasty recipe is unbelievably quick and easy to make. You simply chop up your onion and coriander and add them to a bowl. By the way, trust me, here you really need to chop up the onion and coriander finely. Otherwise you’ll just end up with big chunks of onion in yogurt, instead of the onion flavors seeping into the yogurt, and the yogurt mellowing the sharp onion.

Then add in the black salt and kashmiri chili powder. If you don’t have these ingredients, which can be found at most Asian food specialty shops, you can substitute with regular salt and cayenne chili powder, although the taste will be slightly different.

Stir in the kefir. I particularly love to use kefir for raita because for me, it is the perfect pour-able consistency, with the added bonus of some gut-friendly bacteria. If you can’t get a hold of any kefir yogurt, you can use natural or greek yogurt, beaten with a whisk until smooth, and thinned with a little water until it reaches the consistency you prefer.

Finally, toast the cumin over a medium high heat, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes until slightly darker and with a strong nutty aroma, and add to the yogurt mix. You can enjoy your raita straight away, although I prefer to let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the flavors fully develop.

It tastes even better the next day, and will keep for up to five days in the fridge. If you do make this dish, take a picture and let me know on Instagram, @the_fiery_vegetarian, or leave a comment and/or star rating below! What will you serve your raita with?

Yield: 4 servings

Smoky Kefir Onion Raita

A bowl of white sauce surrounded by fresh coriander and Indian dishes

This creamy onion raita with lashings of fresh coriander, spices and toasted cumin, is super easy to make and takes just five minutes, Drizzle it all over everything or dip your appetizers in it.

Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1 small onion, chopped finely (about ¾ cup or 80 grams)
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander (roughly 8 grams)
  • ¼ tsp kashmiri chili powder (or ground cayenne)
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp black salt (kala namak) or regular salt
  • 500ml kefir yogurt (or natural yogurt)
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin


1. Finely chop the onion and coriander and add to a bowl.

2. Measure and add the black pepper, black salt, and kashmiri chili powder.

3. Add the kefir yogurt. If using natural yogurt, whisk until smooth.

4. Toast the ground cumin in a non-stick pan over a medium heat for two-three minutes until slightly darker and is emitting a strong nutty aroma. Mix into the yogurt and spices.

5. Serve immediately or for best results, chill at least 30 minutes.


You can also substitute 400ml Greek yogurt whisked with 100ml water for the kefir yogurt.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 83Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 5mgSodium 483mgCarbohydrates 11gFiber 2gSugar 7gProtein 6g

Did you make this recipe?

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4 thoughts on “Smoky Kefir Onion Raita”

  1. Delicious! And super-easy, but mine turned out a lot more brown than in the photo! Maybe next time I’ll cumin seeds instead of ground cumin.

    • Thanks for the feedback Fi! Let me know how it goes with cumin seeds – I generally prefer to toast ground cumin so it distributes more evenly, but the seeds do also have that lovely nutty texture…

    • Hi Nicole, great question – yes it definitely would, you’d just need to be careful with the flavor profile. For example soy yoghurt no as even the plain ones have a strong after taste, but cashew or almond yoghurt yes definitely. You could also thin it out with some sugar-free plant milk until it gets to a pourable kefir-like consistency. Do let me know how it goes if you try it – plain no-added sugar yoghurts are thin on the ground here is Spain hence I haven’t tried it yet!


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