The writer Jonathan Safran Foer once said, “Food is not just what we put in our mouths to fill up; it is culture and identity.” I couldn’t agree more, and perhaps that is why, as I grow older, I have begun to appreciate and enjoy Indian food more than ever before. Not only do I enjoy and crave the flavour profiles in Indian food, but I love preparing it with my kids and teaching them to enjoy Indian food as well.
Mint, or pudina, to me is something that always makes me think of Indian food. An herb that is widely used around the world, most people don’t think mint to be synonymous with Indian flavours, but oh, what tasty memories I have of mint in my favourite Indian dishes.
Perhaps my most powerful memory was when I was a young child and an older aunt had come to visit. As she was puttering around in our garden, she started to cut some greenery. My sister and I were convinced she was picking weeds, and when we asked her what she was doing, she responded that these greens would go into paranthas (flatbreads) for the day. We were, obviously, horrified. We couldn’t possibly eat those weeds! We would fall gravely ill if we did, right? Lucky for us, she was picking mint, and later that day we were able to enjoy the most delicious lunch.
One of my husband’s favourite ways to enjoy mint isn’t in a mint parantha, but rather in this flavourful mint chutney. Chutneys are an easy condiment to prepare and are best made fresh, but they can be easily stored in the freezer if you want to save some for a rainy day. I recommend freezing in small portions if you decide to go this route (an ice cube tray like this is perfect).
This mint chutney pairs well with any Indian appetizer, from a potato tikki (patty), to a deep-fried pakora (fritter – vegetable, fish, or chicken), or even a belly-warming samosa. You might also try this on delicious butter biscuits (grain-free, gluten-free). One of my personal favourite ways to eat chutney is with a thin and crispy cracker – yup, nothing fancy or Indian at all, but a good chutney makes a wonderful dip!
Try this chutney out at your next gathering and you, too, can enjoy the fresh flavour of mint on the side of your favourite dish.
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 organic roma tomato
- 2 bunches of organic cilantro (approximately 4 cups), washed and any really thick stems removed (thin stems can be kept on)
- 1.5-2 cups fresh organic mint, washed, leaves taken off of stems
- ¼ cup organic lemon juice
- ¼ cup water
- 1 organic thai red chili pepper (optional – I don’t use chili peppers when I make it for my kids)
- 2-3 tsps thick, creamy organic yogurt (optional, to finish)
- Dry roast the cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger on med-low heat until the cumin seeds begin to get fragrant.
- In a blender add all ingredients except the mint, water, and yogurt. Blend.
- Add water as needed to ensure the chutney is the consistency you want. ¼ cup does the trick for me, but you may want a little less or a little more. Add slowly since there’s no going back if you’ve added too much water.
- Add the mint and blend.
- If you want to add yogurt, stir it in at this point and serve alongside your favourite snacks, chicken, or fish dish.
*Feel free to omit the yogurt completely or replace it with a vegan yogurt alternative (coconut, soy, etc.). The yogurt balances the chutney well, but is not absolutely necessary.
*If freezing, do not add the yogurt in until you are ready to consume the chutney
*This chutney will last up to a week in the fridge
*Don’t omit the cilantro! – if anything, err on the side of more cilantro! The chutney won’t scream of a cilantro flavour (if you don’t like cilantro, don’t worry!), but it helps balance out the mint. Without it, your chutney will be bitter.