Many of us have encountered this salad, made with yogurt and mint, in Indian restaurants, where it is called raita. If you make it with crème fraîche instead of yogurt, it can stand alone as a first course. If you make it with yogurt, it is best with other crudités.
– 2 cups whole-milk plain yogurt, or 1 cup crème fraîche.
– 4 regular cucumbers, or 2 English cucumbers, peeled (optional) and halved lengthwise.
– 2 teaspoons coarse salt.
– 2 poblano chiles, charred, peeled, and seeded and then minced.
– 3 Thai chiles, seeded and minced.
– 1 bunch mint or cilantro, large stems removed and leaves finely chopped at the last minute.
Step 1:If using yogurt, scoop it into a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter, place over a bowl, and let drain for at least 2 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
Step 2:Scrape out the seeds from the cucumber halves with a spoon, then slice the halves crosswise into crescents about ¼ inch thick. Place the cucumbers in a bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and then toss and rub the slices for about 2 minutes, or until the salt dissolves and no longer feels gritty. Transfer the cucumbers to a colander, set it in the sink or over a bowl, and let drain for about 30 minutes.
Step 3:Working with a little at a time, squeeze the cucumber slices in your fists to extract as much liquid and salt as possible. Put the cucumbers in a bowl.Add the drained yogurt or crème fraîche, chiles, mint, and a few grinds of pepper and stir to mix.