Mint has a long and storied history as a useful and delicious herb. A sign of hospitality, mint was planted by many early settlers at the entrance of their homes, and folklore says that if you rub a purse with mint leaves, they will bring good luck and prosperity. The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used mint for flavoring foods, cleaning the home and curing ailments.
Today there are dozens of different varieties of mint plants in cultivation, all with their own unique taste and scent. A few of the most common ones include peppermint and spearmint but you can also find apple mint, chocolate mint and ginger mint, depending on your taste and culinary desires.
Mint is easy to grow and will quickly spread, so consider planting it in a pot or inside a bottomless bucket in the ground. You can add the versatile herb to sauces, vinegars, vegetables, salads, drinks or desserts – the possibilities are endless.
CHICKEN BIRYANI WITH MINT AND CILANTRO
1 and 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger paste
1 tbsp. freshly grated garlic paste
2 medium onions, sliced
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, washed and chopped fine
1 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
2 green chilies, chopped fine
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp. red chili powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 cup yogurt
12 green cardamoms
1 small piece of cinnamon stick
1 star anise
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. saffron
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar
2 cups white basmati rice
- Cook rice according to directions, add 6 green cardamoms, 4 cloves, star anise, and salt to taste while the rice is cooking and then discard the spices and set rice aside.
- Heat oil in a large pan.
- Add remaining green cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon stick.
- Add onions and fry till a warm golden color. (Tip: add a dash of salt while the onions are browning. It will help release their water and the onions will brown faster.)
- Add cilantro, mint, green chilies, garlic and ginger paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chicken and sauté.
- Add the red chili powder, turmeric and salt to taste.
- Fry well for a couple of minutes.
- Add yogurt and continue to cook.
- Add 1/2-cup hot boiling water, cover and let the chicken cook on medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes. The chicken gravy should be thick. If there is too much water, thicken the gravy by taking the lid off and simmering for up to 15 minutes.
- After the chicken is cooked, carefully use a large spoon to remove the oil that floats on top. Set aside in a bowl. You will need this when layering the biryani in the end.
- Add the lemon or lime juice to this reserved oil mixture and a pinch of sugar.
- In a different pan, warm milk, add saffron and set aside.
Layering the biryani:
- Pour the chicken with gravy into a large round casserole dish or Le Creuset pot.
- Add white rice on top.
- Sprinkle the reserved oil on top.
- Pour the warmed milk/saffron mixture on top of the rice.
- Seal the dish tightly with aluminum foil, so that no steam can escape while it is in the oven.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Serve hot with raita, pickle and papads.
Asmita Kakodker began cooking in 2002 as a way to bring the tastes of her home in India to her new home in the U.S. Soon, thanks to Food TV, cooking was an obsession. She now loves cooking recipes from all over the world and writing about her cooking experiences, new recipes and family favorites on her blog, Compulsive Foodie.
SEARED SEA BASS WITH ROASTED CARROT AND TRUFFLE SPRING PEA PUREE
2-4 6-ounce pieces of steelhead sea bass (can substitute sea scallops)
2-3 cups baby carrots
1 shallot, diced (or ¼ cup red onion)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper
Spring Pea Truffle Sauce:
2 cups fresh shucked peas, blanched briefly (can substitute frozen)
½ cup water plus 1 tbsp. more if necessary, to get the blender going
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. truffle oil
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. white pepper
1 small garlic clove
⅓ cup fresh mint chopped, plus 3-4 sprigs for garnish
- Toss the carrots in bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Spread on a sheet pan in single layer and roast in the oven for 20 minute, until brown and tender.
- Blanch fresh peas in salted boiling water, until just cooked, about 2 minutes, or until they float. Rinse with ice-cold water to shock them and stop the cooking process (to help them stay green).
- Place peas in a blender with the rest of the pea sauce ingredients and blend until very smooth.
- Pour into a saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Do not heat yet.
- Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Once hot, sear the fish until both sides are golden, about 3-4 minutes each side. Or place in a warm oven until just cooked through to medium (or medium rare).
- Immediately before serving, heat the pea sauce gently over medium heat. Do not boil. If you overcook, it will lose its vibrant color.
- To plate: Divide the pea sauce among plates. Top with carrots, then fish. Place a sprig of fresh mint on fish and finish with a few drops of truffle oil.
Adriana Venezia has been a personal chef for seven years. She specializes in creating a unique and memorable private dining experiences as well as planning and cooking weekly meals for her clients. She was one of the consulting chefs at the 2016 Olympics and regularly uses fresh herbs in her cooking.
GINGER MINT MOJITO
½ lime, cut into quarters
1 tbsp. brown sugar
4 slices fresh ginger, peeled
Handful of torn mint, plus sprigs for garnish
2 oz. Don Q Puerto Rican Rum
Sliced sugar cane for garnish
- Muddle lime quarters, brown sugar, and fresh ginger in a cocktail strainer.
- Add torn mint and rum.
- Shake vigorously.
- Add ice to a 12 oz. glass.
- Strain rum into glass.
- Top with ginger beer.
- Garnish with mint sprig and freshly sliced sugar cane.
Dylan Clements has been mixing craft cocktails for five years. He loves coming up with new drinks and experimenting with interesting ingredients and unique combinations. He is the bar manager at Craft Bar Kitchen, where he features fresh herbs in many of his concoctions — mint and basil are two of his favorites.