Summary: Mint Vinegar Syrup is an ideal drink for hot Ramadan days
Before apartment-living became a symbol of modernity, the streets of my beloved hometown, Tehran, were mainly lined up with one-story or two-story single-family houses with one thing in common: a yard. During the late summer afternoons, the yard would usually turn into an open space family room with a table full of all sorts of summer delicacies including fresh fruits, pastries, lettuce leaves, and Mint Vinegar syrup.
For those who wanted to beat the summer heat there was no solution better than drinking diluted Mint Vinegar syrup mixed with crushed ice, and finely chopped cucumbers. People used the syrup to dip Romaine to satisfy a thirst, sweet tooth, and cooling down.
The syrup is known to be the oldest Iranian summer drink. The concoction used to be made with pure honey and vinegar but to make it economically reasonable and accessible, it is made with sugar and vinegar these days. The syrup is a good source of drink for hot Ramadan days.
By adding Chia seeds to the mix, you can create a super-drint for Ramadan.
Prep time: 5 min.
Cooking time: 30-45 min.
Ready in: less than 1 hr
Yields: roughly 3 cups
Mint Vinegar Syrup (Sekanjabin)
4 cups sugar
2 ½ cups water
1/3 cup white vinegar
Few stems of mint with leaves on, washed
1- Place sugar and water in a steel pot or Dutch oven and stir until merely dissolved. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil.
2- Add the mint, leaves and stems included. Lower the heat, allowing the mixture to slowly get infused while the liquid reduces.
3- Add the vinegar in two portions and let it simmer until reduced to half or to the desired thickness. The original syrup tends to have a strong vinegar taste with a sharp stinginess. I like mine mildly stingy. So if you are not a big fan of vinegar in general, do not be intimidated by its stinginess. The vinegar odor is not there at all, thanks to over-aromatic mints. I find it quite practical to add the vinegar in several steps. This way I have control over how sharp, stingy or mild flavored I want it to be.
4- Let it cool. Remove the mints. Using a cheese cloth (double-folded), pour the syrup into a jug to remove any impurities and refrigerate. If stored over time, some cloudiness might appear which is easy to fix; simply boil the syrup one more time, run through the cheese cloth and refrigerate again.
During summer outdoor gatherings, occasional celebrations (like Nature Day celebrated at the end of a 12-day Persian New Year holiday in the Spring), the syrup is popularly consumed with romaine lettuce by either drizzling the syrup over chunks of lettuce, or dipping lettuce leaves into the syrup to honor the tradition. Whatever your choice, it sure is a great way to keep hydrated. Noosh-e jān!