Lassi : |ˈlasē| noun; a sweet or savory Indian drink made from a yogurt or buttermilk base with water
With summer beautifully seeping into the lingering golden days and sultry arabian nights, I’m into a major cooler kick. The lure of a tall glass of chilled beverage that’s quick to mix and heavenly to quench thirst and combat heat is so wild that I’ve been going crazy shaking things up with summers bounty.
And while I’ve been cooking other serious food, it is astonishingly the drink recipes that I’m drawn to, and gets scandalously photographed and featured, again and again. Like today.
Easy, beautiful and heavenly to taste—there’s no better way to celebrate the intoxicating mango season than with this refreshing sipper—mango lassi—that’ll cool you off instantly.
A quintessential Indo-Pakistani experience, lassi, pronounced luh-see, is a classic cold yogurt drink. The mainstay of summertime in India, they are singularly versatile and can be found in sweet or savory variations with flavors ranging from fruits to spices and herbs, depending on season and geographic location. For instance, in Kerala, the skinny, spiced and salted version (chaas), known as smabharam, is a defining staple. Flavored with ginger, curry leaves and green chilies, it is served as an accompaniment for lunch to help the body digest hot and spicy food.
Sweet lassi is the desi equivalent of smoothies, made from any combination of ingredients. Mango is the most popular of the lot. Velvety textured, sweet, and deliciously thick, it makes snacking a glorious treat in this sultry, sun-drenched weather.
The flavor of lassi largely depends on the mango variety. Alphonso, the prized Indian mango, with its heady fragrance, luscious texture and sweet saffron flesh, is best. Yoghurt adds tang, but not aggressively so. The riper the mango, it gives sweetness without the need for much added sugar, and a bit of freshly ground aromatic cardamom imparts a spicy-sweet flavor. Though, I must say, not everyone enjoys the flavor of cardamom in lassi—my kids definitely don’t, but I love it.
When shopping for mangoes, look for fruits with smooth, unblemished yellow skin than gives slightly when pressed. Unripe fruit can be ripened at room temperature in a paper bag, and ripe ones can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for few days. If fresh mangoes aren’t available, use canned mango pulp. Just beware, mangoes are not good for weight management. A 100g mango contains about 75 calories—so moderation is the key.
With mangoes on sale everywhere, whiz up this utterly delectable lassi for breakfast on the go, after school snack, or as an exotic dessert to finish off your spicy meals.
It is full of deliciousness you'll positively enjoy.
Prep: 5 min
2 cups fresh mango chunks (about 3 mangoes, preferably Alphonso)
1 cup chilled yoghurt
½ cup chilled milk
sugar, to taste
pinch of freshly ground green cardamom (optional)
diced mangoes and slivered pistachios
Peel and pit mangoes; chop into chunks. Whizz all ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. Taste and add sugar, and thin with more milk, if you like. If you are using fibrous mango variety, press through a fine-meshed sieve to remove any threads.
Pour into chilled glasses, and top with diced mangoes and slivered pistachios. Serve with straw and spoon.