Let’s discover mango lassi, this traditional Indian drink made with yogurt (dahi) and mango, also used in Ayurvedic medicine to purify the body and the spirit, and that is also great for taming the heat of spicy dishes.
What is lassi?
Mango lassi, the most consumed of all lassis, is a traditional Indian drink from Punjab, a region in northwest India. The drink, with calming and anti-inflammatory properties, goes perfectly with savory and spicy dishes.
Lassi is one of the most popular and famous drinks in India. It is a traditional drink made from dahi (yogurt) and spices, originating from the Indian subcontinent.
Lassi is consumed as a simple drink but also as a drink to be served during the main meals because it is very refreshing both during the hot season and when eating spicy dishes but also because it helps with digestion.
The basic version, made up of dahi, water and spices like cardamom and cumin, is the so-called plain lassi version.
But there are many more or less mild variations. The lassi namkeen (savory) is similar to doogh, while the sweet lassis are halfway between the milkshake and the smoothie.
Sweet lassis are obtained by adding different types of fresh fruit, sometimes garnished with dried fruit. Among the most popular, the mango lassi is the king, but there are also the banana lassi and the pineapple or coconut lassi.
And there is also one of the most consumed lassis in India, bhang lassi, which is infused with cannabis in the form of bhang, an edible preparation based on cannabis, originating from the Indian subcontinent.
Bhang is legal in many parts of India and mainly sold during Holi, the Hindu festival of the spring equinox. Uttar Pradesh, in northern India, is known for bhang lassi.
Traditionally, lassi is served in a handleless clay cup called kulhar, and malai is frequently added on top before serving.
Malai is a South Asian term for a thick cream. It is prepared by heating whole milk to almost 175 F for about an hour, then allowing it to cool.
A thick yellowish layer of fat and coagulated protein remains on the surface, which is skimmed. Malai contains around 50% fat. Buffalo milk is considered best for malai for its high fat content.
Lassi and Ayurvedic medicine
From an Ayurvedic point of view, lassi is a healing and comforting drink made from yogurt, water and digestive spices. A lassi is a wonderful remedy to soothe the dosha.
In Ayurveda (literally the science of life), traditional medicine of India, we approach the reality of each individual according to three principles inherent in nature: movement, transformation and preservation.
These principles are called “the three doshas” and their understanding is essential for development.
The doshas are a combination of several of the “five elements” (water, air, fire, earth, akasha or ether), with a dominance of two elements:
- Vāta: kinetic energy, composed by the elements air + ether (akasha)
- Pitta: the energy of transformation metabolism, composed by the elements fire + water
- Kapha: the energy of cohesion, composed by the elements earth + water
Lassi treats Vata dosha problems because of the rich and sweet qualities of yogurt. It is also used to balance pitta dosha by adding refreshing ingredients such as rose water and coconut. For kaphadosha, the lassi can also work because the addition of digestive spices, as well as diluting the yogurt with water, help the assimilation of yogurt in the body.
Lassi is also popular in Ayurveda because of the beneficial bacteria called probiotics found in all yogurts grown. Probiotics help maintain the flora of the small intestine, which promotes colon health in general and promotes immunity.
Dahi is a traditional yogurt, a fermented curd dairy product, native to the Indian subcontinent. It is usually made from cow’s milk, or buffalo milk, or goat’s milk. Dahi is very important in Indian gastronomy.
Dahi is used in several ways:
- As a drink, like lassi, which is the Hindu drink par excellence. Although it is consumed at any time of the day, it is more frequently consumed between dishes and as a dessert, at the end of a meal.
- Starters and salads: It is very common to find salads with a combination of vegetables, fruits and spices and dahi.
- With meats: dahi-based sauces, spicy or not, also accompany meats, such as lamb, pork and chicken.
Buffalo milk is traditionally considered to be better for making dahi than cow’s milk because of its higher fat content, which gives a thicker mass of yogurt.
What is the origin of mango?
Often called “King of Fruits” by the Indians, mango is the national fruit of India. There is archaeological evidence dating back more than 5,000 years that demonstrates its presence in the Indo-Burmese region, which stretches from eastern India to southern China, spanning all of Southeast Asia.
The fact that it is so prized is not surprising if you consider this sweet and juicy fruit, its elegant flowers and the solid wood of its plant.
As a national fruit of India, the mango is known to symbolize eternal love, wealth and fertility.
In an ancient Vedic story, it presents itself as the mark of true love:
Once upon a time the King of the Earth fell in love with Surya Bai, the daughter of Surya, the sun god, but a jealous witch deceived Surya Bai by throwing her in a tank of water. In the place where it was believed that the young princess was drowned, a lotus flower sprouted, which captured the fantasy of the sad king, depressed by the disappearance of his bride.
Bothered by this, the witch took the flower out of the water and burned it to the ashes. From these ashes was born a huge tree with dark green leaves, which bore golden fruits, mangoes, which brought the splendor of the princess. When one of the first fruits ripened and fell to the ground, it immediately turned into Princess Surya Bai herself. The king recognized her and they got married.
The characteristics of the mango have made it a mythical symbol of great importance for the religions of Central Asia:3 mango is present in many myths related to Hinduism and Buddhism.
The best known concerns Kama, the Cupid from the western Kamasutra tradition. Kama is the one who instills love in the hearts of men and gods by shooting arrows soaked in mango flower oil.
The intoxicating scent of mango flowers often appears in the ancient sacred texts of the Vedas, dating back four thousand years, and in the epic poem of Ramayana in relation to love and eroticism.
If you are looking for an original and tasty drink, ready in 5 minutes, to serve for a spicy meal or not, Indian or not, mango lassi is the perfect drink.
- ½ lb ripe mango pulp (about 2 large mangoes)
- ½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
- ¾ cup cold milk
- 1 cup dahi yogurt (can be replaced with stirred yogurt)
- 2 tablespoons cane sugar (optional)
- 1 pinch salt
- In a blender, add the mango, cardamom seeds, cane sugar, salt and milk. Mix on full power for 2 minutes. Add the yogurt and mix again for 30 seconds.
- Place the mango lassi in the refrigerator until it is very cold.
This lassi should be served very fresh and without ice.
It is possible to adapt the consistency according to the taste of each: either thick or a little more liquid by adding a little cold milk.