Thanks to some crafty parenting I thought lassis, Indian yogurt smoothies, for the longest time were milkshakes. Needless to say, I was not happy when I found out that the same thing made with ice cream existed. I’d been kept in the dark for too long!
But lassis have always been a comfort food/beverage and secret weapon for me. When I’m on the go and would rather have lean protein, probiotics, vitamins, calcium and a subtle hit of fruit than a full-on sugar infusion, a smoothie just won’t do it. Thankfully, all Indian restaurants have lassis.
When I make lassis at home, I don’t always stick to mango (the traditional flavor). You can either go the sweet or salty route when it comes to this shake, and especially for lunch I like to make what I call the raita lassi. It’s the classic Indian side dish meant to cool your Vindaloo jets.
I blend low-fat plain yogurt (not Greek, that will make it too thick to drink) with shredded carrots, cucumbers, radish, cilantro and a little salt until it’s 90% smooth — a little texture is nice — then stir in a little ground cumin. It’s sweet, smooth, cooling, just a little earthy from the cilantro and cumin, and really satisfying. Another way I like it is blending yogurt with carrot juice and a tiny squeeze of honey. The lassi is a broad concept, not a Shiva-enforced law of mango use.
The cup and a half or so of yogurt that goes into a standard-sized lassi (10-12 ounces) contains 14-16 grams of protein (and zero gritty artificial powder), and yogurt is famously easy to digest, so no after-lunch food coma while your body shifts all its efforts to breaking down that cheesesteak. Mmm. Being out of yogurt, a cheesesteak was actually my second choice. I’m no angel.
And now, a lassi story. Every year in India on a holiday called Holi, Hindus spike their lassis with bhang, an opiate-derived narcotic. One year as a little kid I drank the wrong lassi. I’m told I had an awesome day and did not resist going down for a nap.
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