10 June 2009

Mint Lemonade

I certainly did not intend to be away from this site for so long. But then again, there are many things in my life that are not going as I intended these days. The day after my mother's funeral I flew to the Middle East. This may seem odd or callous or escapist, but for me it was just right. Something about wandering a souk and hearing the call to prayer is remarkably comforting to me. Plus, there was a certain boy out there that I was excited to see.

It being a short trip, I didn't have time to do much food investigation, but I did have time for plenty of mint lemonade. The mint lemonade (limon nana ليمون نعناع ) you find in the Middle East is not like what you find in the States, but rather a mixture of fresh lemon juice, mint leaves, and plenty of sugar whirled in a blender until a thick green concoction is poured into your glass. It's the most fantastically delicious drink I've ever had, and supremely refreshing in hot weather.

I'll admit I haven't quite mastered this mint lemonade at home- they must use some super high powered blender in the Middle East that blitzes the mint the liquid- my home version always ends up with little chunks of mint that get stuck in your straw or ledges in your teeth (see above photo). It still tastes great, mind you, but the solution I've found is to simply strain out the mint- sure it doesn't look quite authentic, but it still tastes the same.

Mint Lemonade
You absolutely must make this with fresh lemon juice. Don't even talk to me if you don't.

juice of 8 lemons (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup chopped mint leaves, packed
6-8 cups water (to taste)

Place all ingredients in a blender, starting with 6 cups water. Blend well, taste and add more water as necessary.


Y said...

Perhaps you could try mortar and pestle-ing the mint instead. I love the fantastic presentation of the original/traditional mint lemonade

xtinehlee said...

I looove Middle Eastern lemonade. Love it. I am glad it gave you refreshing comfort during such a hard time. I send you my deepest condolences along with virtual mint lemonade and hugs.

daMawma said...

Mercedes, one month has gone by since your mother's passing. The sympathy cards and condolences will dwindle as friends and acquaintances go back to their routines. Your grief journey will take longer still. Continue to be kind to yourself, and I look forward to your new posts with anticipation and gratitude for your many tastes and talents.

krista - urbanite jewelry said...

have you thought about using a frappe mixer to get the blending trick done? they're little gadgets that they use in greece/cyprus (and i'm sure elsewhere), which blend and froth pretty well. my cypriot roommate just recently showed me the wonders of making frappe. i don't know if it'll get the right consistency, but it might do the trick!


headed back to morocco next week. good times!

Izzy said...

I can't believe this is the recipe today! I've been growing mint and wondering what to do with it...besides mojitos, of course ;). This sounds delicious. Hope you are doing well.

Anonymous said...

This sounds yummy. I finally need to replace my blender and I am thinking of buying a "bar blender",as a neighbor who was a bartender while I was leaving in Texas said that was the only way to make smooth drinks and crush and blend ice into a nice friut smoothie. chrisq

Poorni Pillai said...

Looks refreshing indeed. I sincerely hope your trip helped refresh you, at least a bit.

Hillary said...

I love flavored lemonades! Have you tried Lavender Blue Lemonade?

Dad said...

Welcome back.

We missed you.

(no relation)

Figtreeapps said...

We missed you!!!! I cant wait to try this drink. Today was a very hot day in Philadelphia. Be well. Figtreeapps

Ruthie said...

In Israel, limon nana is made by steeping mint leaves in a mixture of lemon juice, sugar syrup and a smll amount of hot water. You let the mixture cool and then refrigerate it for an hour or so. Then you *strain* the mixture, which will already be bright green, and either frappe it in a blender with some ice for the slushie version, or serve it over ice cubes like American lemonade, as you prefer. The straining solves the wayward mint leaf problem. Hope this helps.

Backstory said...

In my previous comment I forgot to say that the mint should be finely chopped. Adding the grated zest of the juiced lemons to the steeping liquid also gives a tremendous boost to the overall flavor.

Kano said...

My favourite drink! where in the middle east did you drink that. I thought it is a Syrian speciality.

I love your blog. very nice

Dave said...

I'm so glad you are posting again. So sorry over your loss.

This is a crazy good recipe. I just made it with Algerian mint I'm growing in the backyard (larger leaf and milder than spearmint) and it came out wonderful.

Best wishes!

foodcreate said...

Grand Idea!

Very refreshing :)


Kimmie said...

So sorry to hear about your mum, how are you?

I always enjoy peeking in and seeing what you are sharing. You really have a way with words, pictures, culture and food.

Bless your heart!

mama to 7
one homemade and 6 adopted

Rumela said...

A tall glass of Mint Lemonade in a hot summer day is a heavenly drink. Not only it is rich in taste and flavor also. i like very much this lemonade drinks. I like to try different lemonade drinks. This lemonade drinks recipe is refreshingly new. I am going to try this. thank you for shearing your post.

claudia said...

dear mercedes,
so nice to have you back.
but also glad you took that trip.
take good care of yourself.


Taste of Beirut said...

I had it this summer in Beirut at Caspar & Gambini. It was served frozen, kind of like a maragarita, and I absolutely loved it! I also love your blog and those awesome photos.

Anonymous said...

Hi! also if you actually boil the mint leaves in the water first then remove them before you add the water to the lemonade, you end us with an amazing mint flavoured lemonade

Mona said...

To blend the mint, I put just a small amount of lemonade in the blender with the mint. You'll see, it will be cut in smaller piece. Then I add my chopped mint in the rest of my limonade and stir.

Kamil said...

Dear Mercedes,
Although this is an older entry, I thought it was appropriate since I just made this. I'm Pakistani and live on the outskirts of Islamabad (the capital) in a farm area called Chak Shahzad. I am fortunate enough to have fresh lemons and mint that were literally alive just 30 minutes ago.

This stuff is amazing! Normally we have Lassi over here, which is a Yoghurt drink (and I'd love to send you the recipe if you can give me a space to do so). As you suggested, the juice was freshly squeezed. I cut the mint very bareek, as we would say here.

I'm sipping it right now and the mint is in such small pieces that it's really not a problem while drinking. Tonight, I am also going to try adding oat flour to my cookies as suggested by you.

It's quite by accident that I found this blog yesterday, but I am very happy I did! To me, this is a lot like a 21st century version of "Like Water for Chocolate" (if you haven't read the book, get it right now).

It's also so refreshing to be able to read about a region I am deeply connected to, without hearing of politics, bombings and wars.
Indeed, this is like a web sanctuary.

Salaam and hope to hear from you soon!

Nienke said...

Hi! I was looking for the recipe. Used to make my own but never got the lemon/sugar thing right. A tip for the mint: freeze the leaves overnight. As soon as you take them out of the freezer and let them defrost, they go all sticky and dark. Can't eat them anymore but they're soft enought to make perfect huice from (I got that part right)!

Mike said...

I got very finely chopped mint in our Magimix food processor by starting with the chopped mint, sugar and just enough water to wet the sugar, blending for a while, then adding the rest of the liquid. Yet to conduct detailed studies as to the optimum quantity of liquid during this first step. The food processor bowl does not seem to have suffered more than it already had from years of use. Thanks so much for the recipe.

Aaron said...

I made this, and it was great! But I put the lemonade through a strainer to minimize the mint bits in the drink. Is there anything I can do with the "mint pulp" that's left over from the strainer?

Thanks! This is a great blog, and I really appreciate all the work you've put into it.