This classic sweet and salty mint lassi is very popular in the northern Punjab, where field workers use it to replenish their bodies with both salt and sugar whilst refreshing and cooling themselves with the buttermilk, mint and cumin seeds. Easier to digest than milk and yogurt, buttermilk is considered a light and healthy way to get your dairy, but now most of us just blend yogurt and water together until we have a light frothy lassi.
Put a spin on the classic lassi and turn it into a lassi float – the slight sourness of the lassi has to be a great balance for the ice cream – and they really work together a treat; complex but easy, and much more sophisticated than a soda float.
For an extra dimension, make it into a falooda, a colourful part-drink, part-dessert dish that you eat with a spoon. It is delicious and lighter than many puddings!
Classic sweet and salty mint lassi; serves 1
- 180g (3⁄4 cup) plain yogurt
- 120ml (1⁄2 cup) water
- 2tsp sugar, or to taste
- pinch of salt
- 1⁄3–1⁄2 tsp roast and ground cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp. shredded mint leaves, or dried mint
- crushed or shaved ice, to serve
Blend together the yogurt, water, sugar, salt, cumin and half the mint. Stir in the remaining mint, taste and adjust the sugar and yogurt. Chill, before serving with crushed or shaved ice.
Lassi floats; serves 6
- 480g (2 cups) chilled plain yogurt
- 400ml (12⁄3 cup) water
- 5tsp sugar, or to taste
- crushed ice, to serve
- 6 small scoops of ice cream
Blend together the yogurt, water and sugar until light and frothy. Adjust the sugar to taste; the amount you need depends on how sour the yogurt is. Pour into glasses furnished with some crushed ice. Add small scoops of your chosen ice cream. Leave for 5–10 minutes, then serve.
Falooda; serves 6
Soak 5tbsp of black chia seeds in enough milk to cover them for approximately 20 minutes, or until they plump up. Cook 80g (2¾oz) falooda sev noodles (Indian cornflour noodles available in most Indian food stores), or some thin rice noodles, according to the packet instructions. Mix these together with a little coloured syrup (either grenadine, violet or the more traditional rose syrup). Divide the noodles and syrup between glasses; there should be 1 teaspoon of the syrup per glass. Add the chia seeds on top, pour over your lassi, prepared as per the recipe above.
For more delicious recipes from all over India check our “I love India” cookbook by Anjum Anand.
*Photo credit: Martin Poole