Yogurt and Mint Marinade

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    1¼ cups

Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

The only marinades that actually seem to work to tenderize meats are those made from yogurt or buttermilk. It’s not entirely clear why they work, but the lactic acid in dairy seems to activate enzymes in meats that help to gently break down muscle fiber. It’s similar to the way that aging tenderizes meats. Because yogurt marinades are only mildly acidic, they also don’t dry out meat the way strong acid marinades do.

This Indian-inspired marinade can be used with any meat (it’s delicious with lamb), bird, or fish. When you are ready to cook, wipe off the excess marinade with your fingers, as it has a tendency to burn when grilled, sautéed, or broiled. Depending on how much marinade I need, I often set some aside to combine with diced cucumbers or other chopped raw vegetables. The Indians call this a raita and its a delicious accompaniment.


  • 2 teaspoons toasted and ground cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced or pressed garlic
  • ¼ cup minced green onions (white and green parts)
  • cups plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • ¼ cup loosely packed, finely chopped fresh mint leaves


Mix All the ingredients together. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.