For the love of

The flavour of

Woman's Era - - Con­tents - By Sa­garika Basak

pu­d­ina.

was at­tend­ing a pani puri party at my friend's. She de­cided that the spicy mint syrup ur­gently needed some fresh sprigs. Mint leaves have a slightly rub­bery feel with deep veins. Men­tha Piperita sp is the tax­o­nomic name and in Hindi, it is called pu­d­ina.

She im­me­di­ately called me and I rushed to the lo­cal veg­etable ven­dor. The ven­dor went into the back of the shop and ar­rived with the twig of fresh mint. I rubbed a few leaves on my palm and they smelled heav­enly.

Like a dog, my friend smelled the fresh mint from my bag. She snatched my bag and rushed to the kitchen. She crushed it with a hand­held blender and added it to the mint sauce. She tasted it on her fin­ger and the per­fec­tion­ist was fi­nally sat­is­fied! Phew!

The ex­tra zing from th­ese mint leaves stood out in the riot of sweet, salty, bland and chilly tastes among the wide as­sort­ment of minutely diced cucumber, onion, tomato, co­rian­der leaves, boiled potato, boiled kab­uli chana and chaat masala. Th­ese small balls of semolina ( suji) were dec­o­rated with green (mint) sauce, red (ta­marind) sauce and a sprin­kle of yel­low sev. When they dis­ap­peared into the mouth in one go, there was a de­light­ful sen­sa­tion, as a va­ri­ety of tastes and flavours played hide and seek in the mouth and sent pleas­ant sig­nals to the brain. This sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence is called pani puri.

I nat­u­rally got some mint sprigs as a re­turn gift. I protested that I did not know what to do with them. She sug­gested that I check Google and find out. She told me to put it in wa­ter.

I con­verted an empty wine bot­tle into a vase, filled it with wa­ter and added a pinch of salt. I placed the bunch of sprigs into it. Some­how, they were not look­ing good on my study ta­ble. The leaves were look­ing a bit sad, wilt­ing slightly. I took it out and put it in a plas­tic bag along with my fresh co­rian­der leaves in the re­frig­er­a­tor.

That night, I ate raw mint leaves as mouth fresh­n­ers. Be­fore that, fresh mint leaves, freshly washed and smelling divine, en­tered my mashed potato as part of my roast chicken din­ner. Ac­tu­ally, I took out a few leaves and dec­o­rated a few whole ones on half a leg of chicken to im­prove its aes­thetic ap­peal.

We all must have tried Af­ter Eight which are pre­mium mint choco­lates. I had a bril­liant idea. The next day, I rushed to the su­per­mar­ket and bought some dark choco­late. On or­di­nary days, they are my last choice. I came home and put a mint leaf on a piece of choco­late. Divine!

The break­fast the next day was tuna salad on toast. Tuna salad was ready-made with sweet corns. I mar­ried mint and co­rian­der into it and mixed it well. I spread it on a well-done toast. The colours of beige, white, dif­fer­ent shades of green, yel­low and brown ap­pealed to my eyes and tasted su­perb.

I had stopped tak­ing or­di­nary wa­ter. It was now warm wa­ter with a zest of lemon ( gand­haraj va­ri­ety) with fresh mint leaves as I read a thriller on a cold win­ter af­ter­noon. Tea also had a leaf or two of mint float­ing in it. Any guest was wel­comed with mint tea with­out a choice.

Not to leave be­hind Chi­nese food, I added fresh mint to noo­dles and they tasted yummy. How about om­lette with mint, onion and green chill­ies? That was my break­fast menu the next day com­ple­mented cer­tainly by mint tea.

I pre­pared pasta with red sauce and sprigs of mint for din­ner. Sud­denly, life seemed very fresh. This ev­er­last­ing fresh­ness will last for the next 10 years when I would not even dream of mint. We

THE EX­TRA ZING FROM TH­ESE MINT LEAVES STOOD OUT IN THE RIOT OF SWEET, SALTY, BLAND AND CHILLY TASTES AMONG THE WIDE AS­SORT­MENT OF MINUTELY DICED CUCUMBER, ONION, TOMATO, CO­RIAN­DER LEAVES, BOILED POTATO, BOILED KAB­ULI CHANA AND CHAAT MASALA. CHOICE OF MINT

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