What Is Mint Yogurt Sauce?

Gregory Hanson

Mint yogurt sauce is a combination of mint, yogurt, and other ingredients. It is a mainstay of cooking in many different Mediterranean cuisines, and versions appear in India, the near East, and in many different fusion styles of cooking. This sauce may be cooked separately, cooked with meat or some other main ingredient, or used as a dipping sauce and decoration for food cooked without sauce. It works especially well with rich, gamey meats, such as lamb, and with light vegetable dishes.

Raita made with creamy yogurt and fresh mint is commonly served with Indian curries.
Raita made with creamy yogurt and fresh mint is commonly served with Indian curries.

The mint used in mint yogurt sauce should be fresh. Any common variety of mint will serve, and common varieties, such as peppermint, are often the easiest to find fresh. Enterprising gardeners can easily grow enough mint to make mint yogurt sauce as this plant is tremendously hardy and adaptable.

Mint leaves.
Mint leaves.

Any type of plain yogurt can be used in mint yogurt sauces. Greek yogurt, which is thicker and richer than many varieties of yogurt and also quite tangy, makes a good base for this sauce. Yogurts with a higher concentration of milk fats typically produce richer, smoother, and creamier sauces, although they also add more calories and fat to the finished dish. When cooking with yogurt that is low in fat, it may be advisable to strain and thoroughly blend sauces to ensure smoothness.

A main yogurt sauce can be made with plain yogurt.
A main yogurt sauce can be made with plain yogurt.

Lamb and mint are often paired as the fragrant sweetness of mint accentuates the rich and gamey flavor of lamb. Mint yogurt sauce is commonly used to make this pairing possible. In Greek cooking, a thick sauce of mint and yogurt is often served with roasted lamb and sometimes used to baste a lamb toward the end of the cooking process. This type of sauce is often flavored with garlic and may be sweetened, usually with honey, to further accentuate the flavor of the lamb.

A cool and generally uncooked version of mint yogurt sauce is often used as a light dipping sauce for flatbread or vegetables. This type of sauce combines the smoothness and richness of the yogurt base with the gentle flavor of mint. Garlic, pepper, and similar flavors are often used to accompany such a sauce. Sumac, if available, adds a rich complexity to the flavor of such a dip.

Indian cooking also makes use of the combination of mint and yogurt. Raita, a cool and rich condiment that is common in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, is often made with mint and yogurt. This dipping sauce may be flavored with other seasonings common to the cuisine of the subcontinent but is generally not spicy, as it serves as a cool accompaniment to more fiery dishes.

Greek yogurt can make a thick, creamy mint sauce that is excellent on numerous Mediterranean dishes.
Greek yogurt can make a thick, creamy mint sauce that is excellent on numerous Mediterranean dishes.

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