mint juice

In the cool of a whirring fan, I settled down with a pile of paper cuttings going through old forgotten recipes, hoping to find a page among these oddments for summer drinks which are popularly sold on sidewalks.

These drinks are usually made from fresh seasonal fruits or herbs and spices quenching the thirst of passersby and protecting a weary traveler from heat stroke. May be this is how our ancestors kept themselves cool in the scorching Indian heat before the days of colas and sodas with added benefits of much needed nutrients minus the negative effects of frizzy drinks.

pressing sugarcane into juice

But there is also a lingering thought of hygiene when going for drinks on sidewalks. For that reason we were only allowed a slurp of coconut water or freshly squeezed sugarcane juice when we tagged along on market trips as kids. And also, making a pitcher of limeade or buttermilk - again with a hint of fragrant lime is a regular affair on balmy summer evenings in every home.

As all our attempts to try that alluring drink on the road side stand remain foiled, we became even more desperate for a taste. So you can imagine my excitement to see this set of recipes and secrets generously shared by the stall keepers in the newspaper.

The recipe I’m sharing today is made from mint leaves, which apart from cooling the body also aids in digestion and helps in preventing infections of any kind. With the addition of spices, this juice falls into the spectrum of savory drinks and is instantly refreshing.

A word of caution though; since we generally tend to favor drinks that are on the sweeter side, this could be an acquired taste. Please adjust the seasoning according to your taste.

serves 4.

For mint stock (will keep fresh for 2 days in the refrigerator)

Mint - 2 bunches (pick leaves and leave out stems)
Black salt - 2 tsp
Salt - a pinch (adjust to taste)
Fennel seeds - 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 2 tbsp
Peppercorns - 2 tsp

cumin seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, black salt

Fennel seeds (sauf) have a mild anise flavor and are normally taken as after-dinner mint; chewing on these seeds helps in digestion and also serves as breathe freshener.

Black salt is a mineral salt in pinkish tone. It is considered cooling spice and is commonly used as condiment in a variety of street foods or sprinkled on cut fruit or savory snacks. It has a sulfurous odor, so better to use it sparingly.

Preparing mint stock

-Heat a skillet and lightly toast cumin seeds and peppercorns for 2 to 3 min. or until you get a whiff of their aroma.
-Grind rest of dry ingredients along with toasted cumin seeds, peppercorns into a fine powder and keep it aside.
-Now grind mint leaves adding a cup of water or as much as you need to make not too runny mint stock.
-Sieve this juice into a bowl and add the spice powder you just prepared.

To make the juice you need,

Lime juice – from half a lime
Jaljeera powder – to taste (optional)

Jal jeera powder, lime juice , mint stock

Jal jeera is an appetizer drink and is more popular in North India. Jal is water and Jeera means cumin. Jal Jeera powder is made with cumin and various other spices and stored in a Jar to be used on a whim.
I followed this awesome recipe by chef Harpal Singh to make the powder.

Preparing mint juice

-Fill 3/4th of a glass with cool water.
-Add 4 tbsp. of mint stock.
-Squeeze lime juice.
-Sprinkle a pinch of Jaljeera powder on top.

In my first attempt of making this mint juice, I didn't have JalJeera powder. So I left it out and the juice is just as delicious without it. Feel free to omit this powder if you are not in a mood for all the extra work.

 Locally, these drinks are chilled in mud pots wrapped in a soaking wet cloth, but you could refrigerate the mint stock and use it when needed. It keeps fresh for 2 days.

I hope you are delighting in fruity sorbets and creamy gelatos while this heat wave passes on.
Have a relaxing weekend! ( ' u ' )


Stephanie said...

We have tons of mint growing in our yard. I love the licorice taste of fennel. Such an interesting combination of ingredients for a cool Summer drink. Thank you for sharing.

Martha said...

Aha! -- I have mint as well, and this does sound delicious (and looks delicious too, because of your beautiful photos). My favorite thing about all of your recipes (besides the photos) is the interesting information about ingredients and history. Thank you so much, Pratima.

Candace said...

This sounds just delicious, Pratima and I love the history behind it! We have lots of mint in our garden, too! Seems I also missed your previous post on Leela! What a darling quilt - and you do such wonderful, detailed work!

Ann Champion said...

Your mint drink looks so exotic! I'll bet it's really healthy too? Those herbs and spices all have various good health effects.
Thanks for sharing your childhood history. I think your mom was wise to have you avoid the offerings that seemed so tempting? ;)

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

Loved reading this post. How fantastic. Drinks can be so fun. I love mint. Sometimes I put mint in my fresh fruit salad along with a few fresh herbs. It really changes the flavors. Thanks for the recipes and ideas!

Belinda said...

Most interesting Pratima!!!

sewplay said...

Thanks for such an evocative post and enticing recipe Pratima! I will file this away and dream of summer...

Sujata said...


This brings back so many childhood memories. Yumm!
I hope you are having a good summer.

ashima said...

So Refreshing!!! YUM!!!!