Mango Lassi – The most popular beverage at the Indian restaurants!! And the most fascinating thing is that during the first 24 years of my life spent in India, I have never had Mango lassi, ever!! Isn’t that surprising?? We always had mango milkshake, but never lassi. And then, the first sip of mango lassi left me regretting; for not having tasted this earlier. I have always liked lassi. In fact on most summer days, my favorite cooling treat was, and still is yogurt beaten with lots of sugar. Just a few ladles of thick homemade yogurt in a bowl and a few Tbsp of sugar (occasionally a pinch of cardamom powder) and whisk! The ready made sweetened yogurt is a new trend in India and it is still not as popular as here in the US. After coming to the US, I LOVED the so many different flavors of yogurt and stock up on them regularly. They are the best guilt free desserts!!
I am sure you all know what lassi is For those who don’t, lassi is an Indian yogurt drink. It can be sweet or salty and is flavored with spices and/or fruits. Our recipe today is for lassi made with mangoes. And for making my lassi, I prefer using the mango pulp from Indian stores. Being an Indian and meaning no offense to anybody else, I am not a fan of the mangoes available in the US. They totally lack the “mango” flavor and taste very “flat”. They are either too sour or too sweet. A perfect mango is sweet with just a subtle hint of tartness. And the aroma, a mango should smell like mango. Venkat gets mad at me for picking up the mangoes in the grocery stores and sniffing! The aroma is always absent and I come home without mangoes You have to eat the Indian mangoes to know what I am talking about. Desi people, do I have your unequivocal support??? I know I do
There are so many varieties to choose from, my favorites are banganpalli (from Andhra Pradesh), Daseri (from North India) and the kili mooku manga (Tamilnadu). Kili mooku translates to a parrots nose in Tamil. These mangoes are called so because of their shape and are fabulous when eaten raw. These mangoes are not overtly tart and are best when eaten sliced and sprinkled with salt and chilli powder. My mouth is watering as I am writing all this 😛 After my family, I think the thing I miss most about India are the mangoes. During the season we used to buy tons of mangoes. There used to be a corner in our house dedicated to mangoes which was always full. The mangoes were arranged in a particular fashion, the unripe ones in the bottom, the just ripe ones over them and the perfectly ripe, ready to eat ones on the top. So we would just pick up mangoes whenever we want and eat!! Though we ate mangoes throughout the day, the real special time was after dinner. And a really weird thing: (I know most tam brahms will agree with me), I love eating mango slices with thyir sadam (yogurt rice). Its just a tradition in our house, when mangoes are in season, they are always served with a meal.
We would hurry up and have early dinners. Then all four of us would sit with a pile of mangoes in front of us and attack! I don’t like to cut a mango into neat slices and eat, I like to bite into the juicy mango and suck up every last drop from the seed (pit). It ain’t a pretty picture I know :), but that’s how you eat mangoes!! Occasionally my dad would sit with a knife and cut the mangoes and pass on the really sweet ones to us. After some time he would end up with only 3 or 4 seeds (pits) in front of him (you’ll understand what I am talking about if you know how to cut a mango. You cut off both the cheeks first and the portion left out after that is the seed, which still has some mango flesh on it). Then he went on to slurp and suck every last one of them! So even after all of us were done eating our mangoes, my dad would sit there for another half hour, watching TV and enjoying his mangoes
The weather here is absolutely perfect now, warm and sunny by the day and pleasantly cold at night. You have to have a tall glass of mango lassi in such weather, seriously, its the law! :D. I like to always have a can of mango puree in my pantry. But if you don’t have any, you may buy some from an Indian grocery store. You can also use fresh or frozen mangoes. You want to use soft, very ripe mangoes. If your mango looks fibrous, just filter the lassi using a strainer before serving. There is one more thing. I don’t like to use ice in my lassi, it tends to taste smoothie like, which is a no no for me. The lassi should be velvety and smooth. So I prefer to make my lassi and refrigerate for a couple of hours or just start with cold mango puree and cold yogurt. You may of course use a few ice cubes while blending if you wish to.
P.S. I was actually not sure if I should do this post now because I am not very happy with the photographs. This was my first outdoor food photo shoot and I guess I didn’t do very well. I did adjust the ISO and the aperture but I have a lot to learn I need more tips on shooting food in direct sunlight. Please share if you have any tricks, appreciate it!
Mango Puree (sweetened) – 2 cups
Plain Yogurt – 1 cup
Milk – 1/2 cup
Sugar – 3 Tbsp (optional)
Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp (totally optional)
Just put everything into your blender and process to a smooth puree. Chill and serve!! Garnish with a few green cardamom pods if you wish to, but that’s really not necessary!!
Don’t forget to come back and thank me after you drink up your lassi