The aromatic and refreshing is more than just a garnish.

Mint or pudina is a beloved green, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, refreshing taste and cooling effect. It is the go-to herb to get some respite from the summer heat. But at the same time is mint is also the most underrated ingredient relegated to desserts and drinks. Of course, its use in chutneys, raitas and mojitos is beyond legendary!

And with more than thirty species and hundreds of varieties to its name, the most common being spearmint and peppermint, it was but obvious mint made its way into our diets. Read on to know how you can make the most of this inexpensive addition.  

Juice it Up
The most delicious and nutritious way to use mint is to use it fresh, which is why it often finds its way in a number of juices and smoothies. Our favourite recipe is this Watermelon Lemonade: a detoxifying and refreshing drink to your rescue. Watermelon chunks along with a few chopped ginger pieces, lemon zest, soaked basil seeds, and of course, lots of mint leaves. For a boozy version, throw in some vodka or gin for an added indulgence.
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Quick Minty Upgrade
Heat some water and pour it over mint leaves in a bowl. Strain and cool this minty fresh water. Once cool, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. If you plan on making them in bulk, you could simply store the cubes in a freezer bag. When guests come over, use these mint cubes to add a refreshing zing to water, iced teas, or lemonades. You can also make mint butter. Just mix some melted butter with fresh mint leaves either in the microwave or on a pan over low heat until mixed well. You can then slather the mint butter on toasts, breads, parathas, muffins, and so much more.

Also Read: Flavoured water recipes to help beat the heat 

Minty Syrups
Fresh mint leaves boiled with sugar to make mint syrup can be used to sweeten summer drinks and desserts. All you have to do is mix one part water to one part sugar and bring it to a boil with a handful of mint leaves. The mint flavour will blend with sugar thereby turning into a syrup which can later be cooled and refrigerated until further use.

Chill in Style
Reminisce childhood with icy popsicles but with a modern twist. The cool freshness of mint make these Ice Popsicles a guilt-free and vegan treat with no artificial colours. Besides, you can also experiment by throwing in flavours of your choice–from watermelons, berries, pineapples to cucumber, green tea, chocolate and coconut–they are just perfect for summer. Apart from popsicles, you can brew a fresh batch of mint tea, which can be enjoyed either hot or cold and is one of the easiest ways to enjoy fresh mint. To make mint tea, simply tear the leaves, throw them into a pot of boiling water, let steep for a few minutes. Strain well and enjoy.

Summer Salads 
If you’re looking for the star ingredient for your summer salads; make way for mint. Chop a bunch of fresh mint leaves and add to your salad along with some freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or even lemon zest. Add veggies and fruits of your choice; the flavours will impart a great summery flare to any of your boring salads. Our top pick would be these Healthy Salad Rolls. Learn how to recreate them in your kitchen. 
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Also read: Watermelon recipes to help beat the heat 

Dip Dive
Make way for minty dips–great for dunking an assortment of munchies. Not only do they offer relief from your summer woes, but these easy-to-make dips take no more than 15 minutes to get to your table! Simply stir together some yoghurt, fresh mint leaves, chopped ginger and garlic, lemon juice and cumin in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Besides, you can also jazz up your minty dips by experimenting with walnuts, roasted peas or simply ginger. These mint dips can be refrigerated and used for a couple of days when those hunger pangs strike.

Savoury Twist
If you are looking for fool-proof ways to introduce mint into savoury dishes, soups are your safest bet. The flavour of mint is unexpected but pairs well with a number of veggies and blending it in soups is a great way to try something new. Moreover, you could also substitute vinegar in your cooking with some dry mint leaves for that sweet and salty flavour in your gravies and curries. Crush or tear, and then mix in your almost cooked gravy or curry to add a refreshing flavour. Give this spicy and Minty Chicken Mole dish a try. Besides a mint marinade will help pack your meats, paneer, tofu and mushrooms with light, bright and refreshing flavours that make it worthy of a place in your meal plans.
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Sweet Tooth
Take your dessert-loving to a whole new level by adding a few mint leaves into your baking recipes. You can add a few chopped mint leaves to your cookie doughs, macarons, truffles, cakes, brownies, puddings and even pies. To balance the flavour, you could throw in some chocolate or just let the mint shine on its own. We adore this Mint Mousse Chocolate Cup recipe that makes use of fresh mint leaves and mint toffees. Try them out now!
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Good to know: Mint is also known for its many therapeutic properties, making it a favourite among beauty enthusiasts. You could even consider adding this magic ingredient in your beauty shelf to treat everything from mosquito bites, acne, and dry skin to blackheads and summer tan – there’s almost nothing that this herb can’t handle. 


Image: Shutterstock

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