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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MINT'S VERSATILITY PAR EXCELLENCE



Well friends, I’m a firm believer in the usefulness of herbs in our daily life. I felt like sharing with you some of the beneficial aspects of the modest pudina which has helped me all along in curing minor health irritants and saved me many a hospital visit. In North India it is a much loved house plant. Most of the households grow this healthful plant in small beds or in pots in their backyards.
Mint’s been a trusted household remedy for centuries. The knowledge of its therapeutic value has been passed on from one generation to the other. For an average householder it is enough to understand that this herb has immense healing properties and should be used in whichever way possible. It's widely consumed in summer drinks all over the world.
There’re more than a dozen varieties of mint in the world apart from peppermint and spearmint. However one thing is common in all of them: they are perennial, aromatic and possess volatile oils. Mint grows about 20 cm. above ground and spreads very fast if unchecked. It produces purple tinged white flowers which stand vertical tapering at the top. It thrives in moderate climate, gets scorched in winter and in severe summer only frequent watering can save it from extinction. Its roots, however, remain dormant under the soil even in unsound conditions.
My acquaintance with mint as a kitchen king goes back to my childhood. (On the wrong side of sixties now) When I was growing up we were living in a house with lot of open space. My father had expertise in managing a kitchen garden, and I remember distinctly the small bed of refreshing green mint leaves which I was required to pick to grind chutney for our dinner as an add- on to enhance the flavour and pungency of the meal. I was entrusted the duty of preparing the green sauce in the traditional mortar and pestle (no blenders those days) which took no less than an hour for best results. The delicious chutney infused with the labour of love used to be a gastronomic delight. You can do away with all the store bought sauces, if you manage time to make this healthy substitute.
This is how you make it. Put a cupful of clean, washed, fresh mint leaves in the blender. Add a large sized onion cut roughly, a tsp. of ground pomegranate seeds (anardana), two green chillies, a quarter tsp.of red chilli powder, half a tsp. of sugar, juice of one lemon (small) and salt to taste. Blend it to desired consistency. Enjoy it with pakoras, samosas, fried chicken and  dal roti. You can season your burger patties with a thin layer of this chutney and spread some on bread before laying the fillings for sandwiches.   
 Mint is popular for its medicinal and curative properties and  has a prime place as a condiment on kitchen  shelves. Its sedative effect calms frazzled nerves and comes in handy for treating common ailments like headaches, migraines etc. Mint leaves are efficacious in treating gastrointestinal disorders. Its antispasmodic properties relieve gas pain and lead to well formed stool. It is antiviral and an analgesic. Its paste gently rubbed on temples and back of the neck helps in relieving tension and stiffness.
Boil a palmful of fresh mint leaves in a cup of water, let it cool and drink it morning and evening after mixing a pinch of salt. It gives immediate relief in stomach infections and discomfort. Extract the juice of fresh mint leaves and take a spoonful with equal water for stomach cramps and nausea. It can be repeated whenever  needed.
Mint leaves tickle the taste buds in  cool drinks in summers and finely chopped sprinkled leaves  lend a charm to gourmet salads and soups. Put a sprig of mint in a glass of water and chill it before enjoying the drink. It soothes the discomfort and burning sensation due to over consumption of tea or coffee.
As an Ayurvedic medicine it is sold in the form of liquid and soft gels. Mint  paste is conducive for rheumatic aches. Inhale mint leaves for decongestion in Asthma.
Shade dry its leaves to be stored in airtight containers and use in the off season. For example knead the dried specks in flour for making stuffed paranthas. Beat its fresh (finely minced) leaves in eggs for omelets. It aids the digestive process through efficient bile production
Who can  ignore  our very own pudina chai (mint tea) a refreshing, energizing all time favourite beverage in winters? It tones up the digestive process and  the spirits.
Boil  some freshly picked mint leaves in two cups of water.  Put off the flame and add tea leaves. Let it brew covered for 2-3 minutes. Consume it with sugar and/or milk as your personal choice. 2. Pour over tea bags and enjoy with or without sugar and milk.
Its olfactory qualities freshen up the atmosphere, when adorned in a flower vase or kept afloat in a flat bottomed bowl.
Its worth can be gauged from the fact that  products like Antacid liquid, chewing gums, tooth pastes, mouth washes, candies, ice cream and many more are flavoured with mint.
I invent ways to use it daily, why don’t you? 

Your comments are welcome!  
Images courtesy: Google

2 comments:

  1. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing. I love mint in my tea, especially during summer afternoons. However, the mint I grow (from the pudina I find in the market) grows as runners, and not as tall plants. I guess you are referring to plants grown from seeds.

    PS: I loved the few other posts that I looked at too. Will be back for more.

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  2. Thanks Subhorup,
    I've my patch of Pudina for the last so many years.You need to shear it before winter and it'll come out green and shimmering in spring.It takes in lot of space if not checked periodically.

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