On a sweltering summer day, a pitcher of lemonade or iced tea is the quintessential American pick-me-up. But if you’re Indian, you likely pass on both of those drinks for a tall glass of ice-cold mango lassi.
Pronounced “LUH-see,” the drink has many variations from sweet, salty, minty and even spicy. In fact, on the Indian subcontinent, lassi generally refers to any yogurt based drink and it’s a lot like a smoothie or a shake, but thinner and much frothier.
Mango lassi blends sweet mangos with plain yogurt, sugar, milk and ice. Some people omit the milk entirely and use ice-cold water to thin out the mixture, but adding milk makes for a richer, silkier drink.
If you can get your hands on juicy, ripe mangoes at the grocery store, consider yourself lucky and grab as many as you can. Otherwise, most local Indian grocery stores carry cases upon cases of imported mangoes during the summer months. You can also check to see if they carry Alphonso mango pulp, which comes in large tin cans and is a delicious substitute for fresh mangoes — and sometimes even sweeter and more decadent.
Mango lassi is a simple concoction that goes a long way in terms of flavor and texture. And to ensure the perfect lassi mouthfeel, use only regular yogurt and not Greek because you want a drink that’s runny and light, not thick and chunky.
After you’ve gathered your ingredients, throw the mango chunks, yogurt, milk, ice cubes and sugar in a blender and mix it up. As you pour the lassi into individual glasses, an airy, frothy foam should naturally settle on top.
How to make mango lassi at home:
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste
3/4 cup fresh mangoes or mango pulp
1/4 cup ice cubes
First chop up the mangos — if you’re not familiar with cutting a mango, they have a large pit inside that needs to be discarded, but you should squeeze it out like a drenched towel into a bowl so you’re not wasting any mango flesh.
Next place the mangoes, yogurt, milk and ice in a blender. Puree until smooth. Taste the natural sweetness of the lassi before deciding how much sugar to add. Add a couple extra ice cubes to each glass before serving.
Garnish with fresh mint leaves or a sprinkle of crushed cardamom if desired.