With the cold and rainy winter upon us here in the PNW, my kitchen garden has slowed down to a crawl. Earlier in fall I had planted some cabbage, brussel sprouts and garlic. This stuff will be ready in spring and summer. At this time, I have some chard, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens and some herbs that I have been harvesting regularly.
Lavender, rosemary and thyme are winter hardy here and will survive the winter pretty much. Cilantro and mint have slowed down considerably, but I was able to get a small harvest this weekend, before they just die down completely. For me cilantro has been a real challenge to grow. It’s so temperamental and bolts when it is too hot and dies down when it gets too cold.
Mint is a perennial herb and comes back stronger on its own every spring. This highly aromatic herb, with its cool aftertaste is vastly used in tea, curries as well as desserts and cocktails. For me, mint chutney is one of the staples that I have to have in my refrigerator. It is a perfect accompaniment to a whole lot of snacks and main dishes. I love mint chutney especially with the fish pakoras…yummy!
The more mint leaves you harvest the more vigorously it grows, just remember to water regularly during the dry summer months. When I have too much of mint, I dry the leaves, grind them to a powder and store them to use in my mint chutney during winter. Dry ground mint goes very well in raitas too. Mint has good medicinal properties and is an excellent digestive aid for stomach-ache.
I like my mint chutney sweet, spicy and tangy at the same time. To get a good balance of sweetness and tartness, I use equal amount of sugar/sweetener and vinegar, and a whole lot of fresh green chilies to give it the heat. As mint has a very strong flavor, I always add cilantro leaves to my mint chutney. I love the way my kitchen smells whenever I am cooking with mint!
1/2 cup Mint leaves
1 small bunch of cilantro leaves and stems
1 small onion
1 inch piece of ginger
4-5 green chillies
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar/sweetener
1 tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste
Wash and trim the mint and cilantro. Discard the hard woody stems but use the tender ones.
Chop Onion and ginger into smaller chunks.
Put everything in the blender and blend it to get a smooth paste.
Adjust the seasonings to your taste and store in a glass jar in your refrigerator.
Enjoy with pakoras , samosas, in wraps and burgers , or even with daal chawal!