It’s mango season! In my house growing up, this meant that we would go to the Indian store and buy a crate of mangoes and then eat them every morning, noon, and night until we were sick. Sometimes we would just stand over the sink eating them because the juices would just run right down our chins.
Unlike some people, I like mangos at every stage. I like them green and tart like an apple. I like them just as they’re beginning to ripen and develop flavor. I like them ripe. I like them overripe and buttery. And I even like them a day past when they might just be starting to ferment. The only mangoes I won’t tolerate are stringy mangoes, which is why I only buy them from the Indian store and occasionally from Mexican markets. These days, you can find those smaller Atulfo mangoes everywhere, and they’re velvety and lovely in texture.
Lassi is an Indian drink made with yogurt. Americans love mango lassi because it’s basically a smoothie, but you can also get delicious salt lassis which are similar to the traditional Turkish drink Ayran and the uncontroverted cure for a hot-swamp-ass-Philadelphia-day (i.e. July).
In India, people take their mangoes very seriously, and everybody likes what they like. Many people favor Alphonso mangoes, which are sweet and creamy and grown in the region of India where my family is from (Gujarat). Others, like myself, love Pakistani mangoes because they have a more depth in flavor (though you can’t really find them in the US except, weirdly, in Texas, where they sell out within hours). Others like Atulfo mangoes. That’s what I have a bowl of today, because my life is awesome.
Making the perfect mango lassi is about the easiest thing that one can do, as long as you have a blender and the right ingredients. Make sure those mangos are ripe ripe ripe.
I’ve never seen an Indian measure, so you’ll have to take this with a grain of salt. My measurements, like life, are inexact.
First, your ingredients:
You don’t have to use cashew milk. In fact, it wasn’t so great. I bought it because the California drought has me feeling guilty about almond milk so I was searching for an alternative. But I don’t recommend it. Please just use regular milk, or whatever.
Also, that’s homemade yogurt. Just thought I’d tell you that so you’d feel shitty about your store bought yogurt. Only losers still buy their yogurt.
Just kidding! Use whatever the fuck you want. I grew up in a household where my mom (and sometimes my dad) made their own yogurt and sometimes I get nostalgic so I make it myself. Store bought is fine. I use full fat because I think fat free dairy is a crime.
You’ll also need a few cubes of ice, and, if you like, some sugar. Also need a blender or some kind. I use my NutriBullet, which I affectionately call my Nutri-Yum because Leslie Knope.
Step 1: Git to yer mango
The best way to “peel” a ripe mango is not the way they do it with mangoes on a stick. The best way to do it is with a glass. Buckle up buttercup, because I’m about to change your life.
Slice the mango into large slices, honoring the giant flat pit in the middle. Then, taking a slice in your hand, place the rim of the glass in-between the peel and the flesh so you begin to separate the flesh from the peel, running the slice down the edge of the glass. And then mango flesh just falls into the glass.
And if you miss some, just go back in again. Then slice off all you can from the cores and add that in too. You should hopefully have about a cup of mango chunks:
Step 2. Assemble everything else
To the blender carafe add the mango, yogurt, milk, cardamom, ice, and sugar (if desired).
Step 3: Buzz
Blend that for about 1-2 minutes depending on your blender. The mixture should be cold, smooth, frothy, but not too thick.
Step 4: Season & enjoy
I put a dash more cardamom and a bit of coarse smoked sea salt on top. The salty bite provides a nice contrast to the smooth, creamy sweetness of the drink.
Now, a few notes
If it’s not mango season, but you’re craving a lassi, you’re best substitute is either canned mango or canned mango puree (Guju girls like me call it “keri nu rus”). Frozen mangoes just never do it for me – they’re never ripe enough when they freeze it. Keri nu rus is also a good option if you want to make a large quantity of it and don’t want to spend your whole life prepping mangos. Just be careful because it’s sweetened.
Indians love a super sweet lassi, so they would add a few spoons of sugar (2 tsp per serving). I like to steer clear, though I added a small swirl of agave to mine.
If you have mint, add some in. Because why not.
And finally, remember these?
Indians call the stones/pits of mangos the “gotla” and they’re said to have the most nutrients (which is probably a myth told to children to get them to stop turning their nose up at them). If you throw them away, I’m pretty sure my aunt will personally come to your house to deliver you a slap. Eat the mango off of them! It’s messy but necessary! It’s mess-essary. My friend Anna used to take them in the shower with her to exfoliate. In sum, the gotla is full of special powers and will come haunt you if it’s sent to the garbage without realizing its full potency. It becomes ghost-la.
Enjoy your lassi (and your gotla)!
“Recipe” In Full
Makes one large lassi
1 cup peeled and chopped very ripe mango, approximately 2 small mangos, see instructions above for peeling
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1/8 tsp cardamom
3 -4 ice cubes
Extra extra sprinkle of ground cardamom
Pinch of coarse smoked sea salt (optional)
Fresh mint leaves
Combine all ingredients (not the garnishes) into a blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until all ice is blended and lassi is smooth and frothy. Pour into glasses and garnish with a sprinkle of cardamom, a pinch of fresh cracked smoked salt. For an extra special garnish, add a sprig of mint or a few slivered almonds.