Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why Mint is Magic in Indian Food

Although Indian cuisine utilises a whole spectrum of herbs and spices in its repertoire of recipes, there is no ingredient that offers such a refreshing and cooling counter-effect to a hot curry than the zesty flavours of mint.

What’s so great about mint?

Mint has been popular in the culinary world for many centuries – the dried leaves have even been discovered inside ancient Egyptian pyramids and the Romans were brewing mint tea to help settle their stomachs back in the days their mighty empire was the strongest in the world.

In fact, mint is something of a treasure in terms of health benefits. It is a natural digestive, soothing stomach complaints and aiding digestion. It is also considered to be a natural aid for nausea as well as for bad breath. Mint has been applauded for being many things to many people – it even enjoys a reputation as both a natural relaxant and natural stimulant. Perhaps it is that zesty, fresh ‘zing’ that can give you a little boost when your battery’s running low.

How mint is used in India

Mint is used throughout the states of the Indian sub-continent. It goes by many names depending on region but is commonly referred to as pudina. Mint plays a key role in desserts, soups, chutneys and delicious raitas – ideal for cooling scorched palates after one spicy dish too many. However, we have a few favourite recipes that simply wouldn’t be the same without a hefty helping of mint.

Indian meals are often accompanied by a tasty selection of chutneys and pickles. Anardanetephudineki chutney is a version featuring the cooling flavours of mint and consists of a refreshing mixture of mint leaves, coriander, pomegranate seeds, sugar, lemon juice and chopped chillies – the blend of hot and cool flavours makes this chutney very unique.

But of course, a simple chutney alone does not a meal make! Why not pair it with a refreshing pudina pulao for a double hit of this magical ingredient. The mint offers a subtle flavour to the rice, working alongside creamy notes of coconut, fiery ginger and hot green chillies to create an aromatic dish. It can be served along with a curry or stew or simply enjoyed with an Indian flatbread, smothered in ghee.

And if you still haven’t had enough of a mint fix, why not indulge in a refreshing jeera pani for dessert? Pudina jeera pani is a chilled Indian drink that offers a welcome respite from the hot and humid summers of the Indain sub-continent. A cooling blend of sugar, ginger, lemon juice, dried mango powder, water and, of course, the magical mint leaves from which the drink takes its name, pudina jeera pani is enjoyed with a smattering of cumin, a pinch of salt, plenty of ice and a handful of crushed mint leaves.

Experience the wide range of mouth-watering ingredients utilised in Indian cooking with a trip to one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants. Each dish takes its inspiration from the authentic recipes of India whilst simultaneously adding a contemporary twist to create a menu that is both modern and traditional.