Chef Essig's Featured Item of the Week

Indian cuisine is growing in popularity here in the United States

A favorite component of Indian cuisine is the condiment known as Raita. Few meals of this country can be considered complete without it.


Raita is a Northern Indian condiment based on yogurt (dahi). It can contain a variety of ingredients producing multiple variations depending on the region and the dish it is served with. Most raitas are served chilled, and they are often eaten with spicy foods since their creamy coolness provides a harmonious balance with zestier flavors.

A Varity of Raitas

There are many variations of raitas, but the most common is Cucumber Raita.


Yogurt is seasoned with cilantro, cumin, mint, cayenne pepper, and other herbs and spices. Vegetables such as cucumber and onions are mixed in as well. Cucumber is not included in authentic versions because Ayurvedic tradition considers a mixture of cucumber and yogurt to be an unbalanced combination which can cause unbalance in the body. However, familiarity and similarity of cucumber raita with that of Greek Tzatziki Sauce has lead to it's popularity in other cultures... and especially here in the United States.

Cooling Effect on the Palate

Raita has a cooling effect on the palate which makes it a great complement for spicy Indian dishes. In Southern Indian cuisine, such as that found in the Bangalore region, finely chopped or diced carrots will be used to mix with the dahi yogurt.


Others varieties may include, mint, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and spinach. In India, 31% of the population (over 1,000,000,000 people), are vegetarians. When meat is cooked, it is most often chicken or lamb. Beef is not eaten by most Hindus, so you will not often find beef curry recipes used.

3 Types of Curry served at UNC Dining Services

At Wok 'n Roll in both Holmes Dining Hall and Tobey-Kendel Dining Room, you will find a variety of Curries offered. When Curry is on the menu, there are always at least three types served... Red, Green, and Yellow. One of the curries will always be a vegetarian combination, and all will vary in degrees of spiciness and flavors. UNC Dining Services serves Jasmine Rice, Flat Bread, Pakoras, and a variety of Raitas when Curry is on the menu.


Thali = a hindi word meaning plate

This array of offerings at Wok 'n Roll could be compared to what is called Thali (a Hindi word meaning plate). Thali is a traditional way of serving meals in India. A variety of curries and condiments are served to the diner on a large plate. The Thali style of eating is gaining popularity in the United States because it allows you to get multiple types of food and flavors in one meal. It is a great way to explore new flavors... as well as to balance out your meal.

Give our curry a try and build your own thali... but don't forget the raita!

  • Item to try: Curry with Cucumber Raita
  • Where: Tobey-Kendel Dining Room @ Wok 'n Roll
  • When: Wednesday, February 25th @ Lunch

Look for all of our Curry dishes, as well as other diverse selections offered in the dining rooms this semester. Don’t forget to look at the weekly menus on our website often to find out what other fabulous menu items await you this week!

Here in Dining Services, "We Feed The Bears!"

Chef EssigThere are many new and exciting things happening in Dining Services this year, and I certainly hope you will take advantage of what we have to offer. Dining Services is here for you because "We Feed The Bears" and we are very proud of it! GO BEARS!

Don’t forget to look at the weekly menus often to find out what other fabulous menu items await you this week! You can also call the FoodLine (970.351.FOOD) for daily menus. Not signed up for the Faculty/Staff Payroll Deduction program yet? Learn more about the program here.

Happy Dining!
Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA
(Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator)