Mint or pudina is refreshing! But the best way to have it, is having it fresh. You can have the green leaves either in a chutney or as added flavour in paranthas, kulchas, naans, shorbas, beverages or even in a main course dish or two!
The perfect chutney
What would I do if I pick up a few bunches of pudina (mint)? Remove the leaves from a handful of sprigs and allow them to dry. Store and keep for future use. The rest can be used up in lots of ways. One is, make pudina chutney of it. The way I make it is simple: three cups mint, with two cups coriander leaves with green chillies (your tolerance), some chopped onion bits, a three inch piece of ginger, salt, powdered anardana (pomegranate seeds) and lemon juice. If you can use the grinding stone, wow! Otherwise the mixer is an option. This chutney is best consumed the same day.
One interesting fact is that pudina goes rather well with heavy meats like mutton: I have made shorba, a preparation with mutton and pudina, and also some chops. Good combo.
Pudina is also quite amiable with potatoes and paneer. Mashed potatoes with masala and pudina make a healthy stuffing for paranthas, naans and kulchas. As for paneer, grated paneer with pudina can be made into a stuffing for samosas or paranthas; cubes of fried paneer with fresh mint are wonderful with basmati (rice). Make a masala of whole species fried in ghee and add minced ginger and yogurt. Lovely summer meal! Another lovely white dish (is visually appealing to the eye in summer, no doubt!); something I make with paneer in white gravy that is flavoured with mint, grated onions, poppyseed paste and finished off with cream. Hot naan is the perfect accompaniment.
Add the zing
Something as basic as Gujarati kadhi can be enlivened with some of the dried pudina you have in store. To make minty chaas (butter milk), use fresh leaves crushed with ginger, green chillies and sea salt. Add this paste to the buttermilk with the mandatory roasted cumin powder. And sprinkle the powder of crushed dried mint leaves.
Another recent addition to my beverage repertoire is orange juice with mint. Halve some oranges, remove the pips, sprinkle half a tablespoon of brown sugar on each half and let them rest for about fifteen minutes. Place some mint leaves over the spout of the citrus juicer and holding one half of an orange over the leaves, work the juicer. It’s different and worth a try.
Sanjeev Kapoor — Master Chef, Author, Television Host. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.