Grilled Pineapple Raita

1 3-pound ripe pineapple
Olive oil or vegetable oil for brushing the pineapple slices
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup chilled water (see note)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 serrano chile, minced (deseeded if you want it less hot)
3 tablespoons julienned mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground red chile powder

Instructions: Prepare the pineapple by trimming off the top and the base. Then trim the sides and discard the outer thick skin. Using a small paring knife, remove any eyes (the brown hard spiny spots). Then cut the pineapple into six ½-inch thick slices; using a small paring knife cut the central woody core and discard. Wrap and save the remaining pineapple for use in another recipe (or just eat it).

Brush a grill pan with a little oil and put the heat on high. Alternatively, heat a gas grill on high and brush the grates with oil. When the surface is hot, brush the pineapple slices with a little oil on each side and place them carefully on the hot surface. Grill the pineapple slices on each side for about 1½ to 2 minutes, until each side is caramelized. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool to room temperature, about 10 to 15 minutes, before chopping. Once the pineapple has cooled, chop the slices into coarse chunks and set aside until ready to use.

Place the yogurt in a large bowl and add the water, followed by the salt and pepper. Mix well; adjust the seasoning as necessary. Fold in the pineapple and serrano chile, along with half the mint and half the cilantro leaves. Transfer to a serving bowl and keep covered in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to cool and help the flavors meld.

While the raita is resting in the refrigerator, heat a small dry skillet on high heat. Add the cumin seeds to the hot skillet and toast until the seeds just start to turn brown and release their aroma. Immediately transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.

Garnish the raita with the remaining mint and cilantro and the toasted ground cumin seeds and chile powder. Serve chilled. The raita will last about 2 to 3 days refrigerated.

Note: The amount of water might vary slightly depending on how thick or thin the yogurt is. The ideal consistency should be like a thin custard.

Note: while you can serve this with Indian food, this is also a wonderful accompaniment to barbecued meat and grilled vegetables, and it goes well with flatbread and rice.

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