When most people I know hear the word “lassi,” they think of mangoes. I don’t blame them. A glass of mango lassi, when it’s done with right, can be more refreshing than any fizzy soda or milkshake I know, with a tang to counterpoint the sweetness.
But travel across different regions in South Asia and you’ll find countless variations of lassi beyond the mango: infusions of cumin, cardamom, mint, saffron, black pepper, even hearty kicks of cannabis. (No, I'm afraid I've never had bhang lassi.) My Bengali family’s favorite way is to make a batchfull of lassi with Rooh Afza rose syrup mixed with unsweetened, plain, whole milk yogurt and a splash of sugar, serving it alongside some parathas with potatoes. The lassi defies seasonality, but I prefer to drink when the climate gets muggier, a way of staving off heat.
“There’s so much more to Indian beverages than tea and lassi,” Annada Rathideclared earlier this year in an article for us. She was right. But I can't help but feel there’s so much more to lassi, a drink that's quite simple to make, than some of us may know. Here are some of the recipes for lassi we’ve got.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.