Anyone who has been to an Indian restaurant is familiar with this delicious Indian drink made with yogurt and sugar. Some restaurants will serve this drink made with milk, and while this can be delicious, a true lassi is always made with yogurt or buttermilk. In India, it’s found in many different incarnations, including saffron-flavored, mango-flavored, or just plain. It also comes in varying levels of viscosity, from a really thin liquid you can slurp by the gallonful to a thick, creamy dessert version. The latter is generally found in dairy stores, is sold in earthen pots called matkas, and is so thick that it requires a spoon to “drink”. Although the sweet lassi that is popular outside India belongs to Northern India, flavored yogurt/buttermilk drinks are prevalent in Southern India as well. In the hotter South, these drinks are generally served in a savory version with curry leaves, salt, and a unique spice called asafoetida, to alleviate the sweltering summer (and winter) heat. This drink is called “mōr” (pronounced ‘more’) and is definitely more-ish.
So, whether you fancy a salty or a sweet lassi, here are the basic recipes for both, along with some variations for something fancier.
Sweet Kesar Badaam Lassi
¾ C yogurt, I use non-fat
1 small pinch kesar (saffron)
2 T milk to dissolve saffron
¼ tsp. Ground cardamom
1 T chopped or slivered badaam (almonds)
Enough water to achieve desired consistency for the drink. I usually use ½ C to ¾ C depending on how thick the yogurt is.
1 sachet of splenda, or sugar/sweetener to taste.
Dissolve saffron in milk and let steep for 5 minutes
Whisk together all ingredients except nuts.
Serve, topped with chopped nuts.
Plain lassi: Omit saffron, but preferably not the cardamom.
Mango lassi: Instead of water, use canned or fresh mango puree to thin yogurt. Use equal amounts of mango puree as yogurt. Adjust sweetener if mango puree is pre-sweetened.
Mōr (A salty lassi from Southern India)
1 C low-fat buttermilk
1 C water
A pinch of salt
A tiny sprinkle of asafetida (can be purchased at Indian grocery stores. I cannot stress enough that you must use very little of this pungent spice).
5 large curry leaves, coarsely crushed
3 spicy green chilies, such as Serrano, sliced lengthwise in half (optional)
To make: Mix all ingredients in a bottle and shake vigorously. Optional step -- strain out curry leaves and chillies. Pour into an ice-filled glass and drink-up – it’s as simple as that.