Raintha – Dates and Spinach Raita – A Kangra Valley Dham Recipe – Fiesta Friday #47

Raintha - Akhrot aur Palak Raita, Spinach, Walnut and Yogurt Dip
Raintha – Akhrot aur Palak Raita

I have already talked about the Dham or the traditional village feast at a Kangra Valley Wedding in my post on Mandra (Chickpeas in Yogurt). While I loved the Mandra, the dish that made a lasting impact on me was the Raintha, a traditional raita made with Khajur, Palak, and Walnut Paste.

I had asked the cooks at the Dham about the recipe but they were quite cagey. Actually, they were quite bemused by a bevy of South Indian Belles (allow me my delusions :-)) who were crowding around the buffet, ooh-ing and aah-ing over various dishes.

While my quest for the recipe began at the Dham, it came to fruition in Amchi Mumbai; and not from one but two sources. The first source was the Father of the Bride through the Bride (Shainy Sood, Thank you so much! 🙂 :-)) and the second source was Divya Sud Qureshi’s book Flavours from the Kangra Valley.

My recipe is an amalgamation of both recipes and has some tweaks to make up for some ingredients that are not easily found.

Kangra Valley cuisine uses something called as Walnut Masala, which is made by roasting whole walnuts over fire till they are black and then grinding them with a mortar and pestle. I could not find whole walnuts easily so I used shelled walnuts and roasted 1/2 of them over open fire. Where there is a will, there is always a way.

The result was finger-licking good! 🙂

Serves: 4

Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. Fresh Palak or Spinach – 1 Large Bunch
  2. Dahi or Yogurt – 2 Cups
  3. Pitted or Seedless Khajur or Dates – 20 to 25
  4. Akhrot or Walnuts – 1/4 Cup
  5. Haldi or Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
  6. Dhania or Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
  7. Lal Mirchi or Red Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp
  8. Roasted Methi or Fenugreek Powder – 1/4 tsp
  9. Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  10. Mustard Oil – 1/4 Cup

Method to Prep the Dates

  1. Cut the dates into thin long strips.
  2. Soak the date strips in 1.5 cups water for 4 to 6 hours.
  3. Remove the dates from water. Save the water.
  4. Set aside.

Method to Make the Walnut Paste

  1. Hold a piece of walnut between tongs.
  2. Roast it over an open flame and turn it over slowly.
  3. Let the walnut roast till it chars.
  4. Repeat with 1/2 of the walnuts.
  5. Grind all walnuts together with a little water into a smooth paste. I used the water in which the dates were soaked.

Method to Make the Spinach Puree

  1. Remove the stalks from the spinach.
  2. Chop roughly.
  3. Grind to a smooth paste with a little water. I used the water in which the dates were soaked.

Method to Make the Raintha

  1. In a heavy-bottomed vessel, heat the mustard till smoking point and till it becomes transparent.
  2. Turn off the heat and let the oil cool a bit.
  3. Add the cumin seeds, turmeric powder, coriander powder, roasted fenugreek powder, and chilli powder.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Turn on the heat and set to medium.
  6.  Add the dates and the walnut paste.
  7. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Add the spinach puree.
  9. Saute till the water evaporates and the paste starts to leave oil from the sides. At this point, the mix is dark green in colour.
  10. Turn off the heat.
  11. Beat the yogurt to a smooth paste and add to the cooked date-spinach mix.
  12. Mix well.
  13. Add some of the water in which the dates were soaked.
  14. Mix well.
  15. Turn on the heat.
  16. Over medium heat, cook the Raintha till it starts to bubble.
  17. Turn off the heat.
  18. Serve warm!

Tips

  • I was told to use dark green food colour to enhance the look of the Raintha. However, I do not like to use artificial colours as much as possible and so did not add any.
  • Divya’s recipe calls for straining the spinach puree and using the liquid. I used the puree as is.
Raintha - Akhrot aur Palak Raita, Spinach, Walnut and Yogurt Dip is a recipe found in a Dham in the Kangra Valley
Raintha – Spinach, Yogurt, Walnuts and Dates

I am taking this recipe to the party that is on at Fiesta Friday #47!

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14 thoughts on “Raintha – Dates and Spinach Raita – A Kangra Valley Dham Recipe – Fiesta Friday #47

  1. Aruna, this is such an unique as in 'uncommon' recipe! I really admire how you always bring such hidden treasures into light! I really love all the ingredients in this raitha - spinach, dates and walnuts! I can imagine how awesome it must taste! Btw your post made me read up more about the Kangra valley and now I want to go there! :) thanks so much for bringing this to Fiesta Friday! Wish you a happy holiday season! :)
    1. if you're lucky enough... you might get to eat dham.. we were invited quite unexpectedly by complete strangers to have it when we were visiting the kunaal-pathri mandir near dharamshala last year.. loved every bit of it and the warmth and care with which they served.. they even made sure to have one of their family members sit next to us!!
  2. Hi.. that sounds awesome... I love himachali food... would you serve this with rice or roti? Do we need to serve anything else with it?
  3. The ingredients used in this recipe make it a perfect meal. Thank you for sharing this, Aruna. :) It's crazy when you really like somethung from a resto and you can't stop thunking about how the cooks made it.

Hey! I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Do leave me a comment.