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Avocados for Indian food? This unusual dish really sings – Monterey Herald

Shachi Mehra, chef-owner of Adya in Anaheim and Irvine, has a talent for combining tradition with innovation. Her dishes showcase influences from all regions of India while placing California fruits and vegetables in the spotlight.

Her avocado raita is one example — one very delicious example. Typically, the condiment is made with plain yogurt, chiles, spices and often cucumber. But in Mehra’s kitchen, a cucumber-free version is whirled with generous amounts of ripe avocados, making it creamy smooth and irresistibly rich. She dreamed up the avocado version years ago when she moved to California.

One way she uses it is atop masala papad, a salad-like concoction served on crisp poppadums. Imagine an Indian version of tortilla chips topped with a mouthwatering, colorful vegetable concoction of roasted corn kernels, diced cucumbers, thinly sliced radishes, cilantro and chiles tossed with a dressing of extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lime juice.

Poppadums are the foundation of the dish. They become blistered and cracker-crisp when toasted over an open gas flame or in the broiler. Made of lentils, poppadums can be used like brittle tortilla chips for dipping or spreading.

Avocado Raita

Makes about 5 cups


1½ tablespoons cumin seeds, divided use

3 cups plain Greek-style yogurt, divided use

Salt to taste

4 ripe avocados, seeded, scooped from the skin

¼ to 1 green jalapeño or serrano chile, unseeded, minced

½ bunch cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lime


On medium heat, toast cumin seeds until one shade darker and fragrant, shaking pan occasionally  to redistribute seeds. Transfer to a plate to cool. Grind in spice grinder. This recipe uses ¼ teaspoon in this recipe and ½ teaspoon in the Masala Papad (recipe follows); leftover toasted cumin can be refrigerated airtight and used in a variety of dishes.

Puree 1 cup yogurt, salt and avocados in a food processor or blender. Add remaining yogurt and puree until smooth and totally blended. Transfer to bowl and using a whisk, stir in Chile, cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon toasted ground cumin and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Masala Papad

Serves 4


2 fresh corn, roasted until caramelized, kernels removed from cob

1 small watermelon radish or red radish, trimmed, very thinly sliced

1 small Persian or English cucumber, diced

1 teaspoon minced unseeded jalapeño or serrano chile, or to taste

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon chaat masala

½ teaspoon roasted ground cumin (see above)

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

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