I love mint. It’s probably my favorite herb. But sadly, I haven’t seen many people use it because they normally associate mint with breath mints or mouthwash. Fresh mint leaves, on the other hand, leave a very subtle and gorgeous flavor. And if you don’t use it enough, you really should.
In Spain, we get two varieties of mint: the common mint called ‘menta’ and a special spanish variety called ‘hierbabuena’ (literally means the good herb), which the Spanish claim is much superior. I’ve never been able to tell the difference (sshhh!).
I’ve attempted to make two mint dishes, both with rice, but in totally different styles. One is a South-Indian style Mint and Peas Rice, and the other is a Mint and Mushroom Risotto. In Indian cuisine, mint is used all the time: in chutneys, with vegetables, with rice, and meat. It’s a very common herb. But again, with internationalization, cilantro has become “the preferred herb” of Indian cuisine all over. Similarly, I’ve heard that mint is the most commonly used herb in Italian cooking, because it grows all over Italy. But again, basil has become the more common Italian herb.
I’ve just attempted to try and use mint (I happened to have a really big bouquet of it) in different forms.
Mint and Peas Rice
This is also a type a ‘Chitrannam’ I was talking about in the post about lemon rice.
Cooked white rice (preferably basmati rice, or any long grain rice) – 2 cups
Frozen green peas – 1/4 cup
Fresh mint – 1 cup, packed
Green chili – 1
Fresh ginger, chopped – 1 teaspoon
Fresh grated coconut – 2 tablespoons
Cumin – 1 teaspoon
Bay leaf – 1
Oil – 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
1. Grind the mint, chili, ginger and coconut into a paste.
2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the bay leaf and the cumin.
3. Immediately, add the mint paste, frozen peas and salt.
4. Saute for 3-5 minutes.
5. Take off heat, add the cooked rice and mix well, till the rice is well coated.
6. Taste and adjust salt, the rice would probably need more.
7. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
Mint and Mushroom Risotto
Risotto is more a technique than a recipe. I’ve given in a risotto recipe earlier, I’ve just used the same process here, but made the flavor profile much simpler (no mirepoix, or any other herb), so as to bring out the ‘mintiness’ ?!
Arborio rice: 1 cup
Vegetable or chicken stock – 4 – 5 cups
Onion – 1 medium (diced fine)
Garlic – 2 cloves (minced)
Fresh Mint – 1/2 cup (minced)
Fresh mushrooms – about 15 medium sized ones sliced. (I’ve used creminis, but you can use any variety)
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon for the mushrooms
Butter – 1 tablespoon
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring the stock to a boil and set it on a simmer while you get the other ingredients ready.
2. Cook the sliced mushrooms until they are brown and smell nutty, in a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt. (skip the salt till the very end, salt brings out the water in the mushrooms, and you don’t want soggy mushrooms)
3. Remove the mushrooms and set them aside, and to the same pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter.
4. Saute the onion and garlic.
5. Once the onions are translucent, add the rice and saute till all the rice is coated with the oil and smells nutty.
6. Add the 1/3 of the simmering stock, and cook till it is all absorbed, stirring constantly.
7. Once, all the stock has been absorbed, add another 1/3 of the stock and let the rice cook and absorb the stock.
8. Add the mushrooms, and salt and pepper.
9. Add 1/2 of the remaining liquid, and cook it down. Check if the rice is done. It should be cooked completely, but still have a bite to it.
10. If it has cooked, you don’t need the remaining stock, but if it hasn’t, add the final installment of stock and cook till absorbed.
11. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
12. Remove from heat and mix in the chopped mint.
13. Serve immediately.
1. Mint stalks are woody. Use just the leaves.
2. In both dishes, a squeeze of lemon juice at the end would be wonderful. Or some lemon zest.
3. Mint pesto is a great use of mint as well. Mix it with pasta or serve it as a sauce for fish or chicken.