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The Lazy Lassi

March 11, 2012

Smoothies can be kind of like breakfast, right? I’m still trying to hold onto the Sunday breakfast feature instead of boring you all to tears with a wine analogy that came up in conversation with my father-in-law. For those of you who are curious it involves baseball cards. But while I found the discussion to be fascinating it almost put Mrs. Fussy to sleep.

For a while in the late ’90s I’d have a Jamba Juice smoothie in the mornings on the way to work. Granted, it was a significant modification from the one on the menu board, as even then I was concerned about organic produce and how much sugar they snuck into my cup. The order involved doubling some ingredients, leaving out others, and substituting sorbet for frozen yogurt. Oh yes, and adding fiber.

I’ve been an old man for a long long time.

Maybe it’s the hippie in me, but a smoothie needs to contain both fruit and yogurt. What passes for a smoothie these days is simply stunning. But I’m going to advocate for the mango lassi as an often overlooked version of the form. The thing is that these are so easy to make, it’s almost criminal. And now I’m at the point where I just cannot justify buying one at a restaurant.

Little Miss Fussy was going to drive me to the poor house with her love of mango lassi. Seriously, at about four bucks a pop, it’s almost twice the price of Young Master Fussy’s school lunch or two slices of pizza from most local slice shops.

She has expensive tastes. You should see her demolish lamb chops.

That little girl can suck down a sixteen-ounce mango lassi in a minute flat. And she loves every second of it. The good news is that this was the gateway dish that brought her into Parivar. The better news is that I’ve now convinced her that these are what we drink at home, as special treats, and we go to Parivar for snacks and provisions. Most notably, the cans of mango puree we need to make her beloved lassi.

Now some people will insist on making a mango lassi with fresh fruit. Others will say the frozen mango cubes are a great middle ground, since they chill the beverage as it is being made.

The only problem with that is having a blender that works well with hard frozen chunks of anything. And this has been a perpetual annoyance in my life. Maybe one day I’ll finally cave and buy the $600 blender. Until then, I’m staying away from anything with frozen chunks, and I’m not going anywhere near ice cubes.

I am perfectly happy with canned sweetened mango puree.

Okay, maybe not perfectly happy. Canned foods make me nervous for a variety of reasons. Maybe the can is lined with BPA. Perhaps foreign governments aren’t as particular about lead solder in the can’s construction. Surely there are other things to be concerned about as well.

But putting paranoia and my own personal craziness aside for a moment, the sweetened canned puree is so delicious and convenient that it makes it into our household as an occasional treat. There are some who swear by the Alphonso variety of mango, but the Kesar is great too. We have a can of the later in the house right now, and all it has in it is mango, sugar, water and citric acid.

And all you need to do in order to make a restaurant-worthy mango lassi is to mix the puree with yogurt and thin it out a bit with milk. I like to season the drink with just a pinch of salt and shake of ground cardamom. Some like a bit of buttermilk or a few drops of lime juice.

At home I use my grandfather’s chocolate malt machine to mix the ingredients together. But a blender would work, as would even a Boston shaker.

I choose to keep all my ingredients cold instead of adding ice, especially given my serious hatred for any chunks of unblended ice in drinks, and most blenders’ inability to get rid of them entirely. One of the nice things about making this yourself is that you can control the whole process.

Like it a little less sweet? Add some more yogurt.
Want it a little thinner? Add some more milk or ice water.
Really love mango? Heap in the puree. 

You can simply start with one part milk, two parts sweetened mango puree and three parts yogurt. Then adjust the proportions to make it your own. I also like to add a pinch of salt and a bit of cardamom. Or you could follow some other recipe plucked from the interwebs. I just kind of go by feel.

Now whenever we make chana masala at home, a batch of mango lassi is automatically mixed up for the kids. The chickpeas are a little too spicy for their palates, but this sweet drink is really remarkable for putting out the fire. And while they had flat out refused to eat chana in the past, now they look forward to it.

That’s progress.

You may also find some fun uses for mango puree once it’s sitting around the house. We’ll just swirl it into a bowl of plain yogurt as a snack, or drizzle it over vanilla ice cream as a dessert topping. I even used it in place of maple syrup for French toast. That last one may be sacrilege, but it brings the post back around to breakfast. So I’m going to let it stand.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. abby permalink
    March 11, 2012 10:14 am

    Yum.

  2. March 11, 2012 12:52 pm

    I use fresh or frozen mango, but allow the latter to thaw a bit first before using. Works great.

  3. Darren Shupe permalink
    March 11, 2012 1:49 pm

    I’ve become a fan of the Goya mango and guava juices. In winter, they work when you need that tropical fix. Blend with some crushed ice, and you’re good to go.

    The only juice I keep at room temperature is tomato. I like the way it sort of opens up over ice when I make a Bloody Mary – not too much vodka, some celery salt, a little Worcestershire, some Tabasco sauce, etc. In summer, I use fresh mango… one of the best things about the season. Can’t wait… we’re finally starting to thaw out! :)

    • Kerosena permalink
      March 12, 2012 1:16 pm

      +1 to the goya tetra-paks. I get mango, peach or guava and add a splash to my iced tea.

  4. Darren Shupe permalink
    March 11, 2012 1:52 pm

    I should add… fresh mango on its own. Not something I’d put in a Bloody Mary, unless I were indulging in a strange mixological experiment. ;)

  5. March 11, 2012 10:59 pm

    I’m trying this.

    Now I want Indian food . . .

  6. March 12, 2012 11:46 am

    Mango puree should be just mango, no? In the Goya frozen food section (most Price Choppers have one) they have frozen mango or passionfruit puree and it’s just the fruit. It’s ridiculously cheap for what it is. One package would make several lassis (plural?) and you could always defrost it and then repackage it into smaller containers.

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