This is my twist on the Indian mango lassi, that fruity and tangy yogurt beverage beloved by millions of Indians and Indian food fans around the world. Besides being tasty and refreshing, the lassi plays a sometimes crucial role when served with fiery Indian curries-- to cool the burn.
I could have used a lassi on a flight long ago that took me to my junior year abroad in Singapore. The vegetables in my curry were vibrant and cooked to just the right texture. I savored each bite. I tasted the eggplant, potato, and carrot. Then I speared a delicate appearing string bean and bit down. Within seconds, I thought I was going to die. I had mistaken a fiery green chile for an innocent bean. My eyes teared. My throat was burning. I began to hiccup uncontrollably. My seatmate made sure I wasn’t choking and then pushed my flight attendant call button for me. The flight attendant rushed over and asked my handsome and distinguished appearing seatmate how she could help him, somehow blind to my gasping, tearing, and sweating. He pointed at me: “She needs a glass of water.”
He was chivalrous, but wrong. The only way to extinguish the fire of an erroneously eaten chile is with yogurt.
The basic formula for a lassi is simple: equal parts yogurt and icy cold water. The crucial first step is to get the best tangy, full-flavored yogurt you can buy or make. Next, think about flavor. Lassi is enjoyed in both sweet and salty forms, and both can be spiced with ginger, cardomom, saffron, rosewater, mint, and other flavors. Besides the plain, lightly sweetened variety, my other favorite is the mango lassi. Vibrant hued and fruity, the mango lassi doubles as beverage and dessert. I use Alphonso pulp to make my mango lassi smooth, sweet, and flavorful. To play on the dessert-worthy fruitiness of mango lassi, I’ve adapted it into a frozen yogurt with a subtle spicy undertone of ground ginger and a crunchy topping of chopped pistachios. —Beautiful, Memorable Food
plain tart whole milk yogurt (I like Strauss Family Creamery's)
Alphonso mango pulp, available at Indian markets
1/2 to 1 teaspoons
ground ginger (to taste)
chopped pistachios, to sprinkle as garnish