Saltie, a great little nook of a sandwich shop near where I live in Williamsburg, is probably most famous for creations like the Scuttlebutt: an aioli-bathed salad of hard-boiled egg, feta, parsley, capers and pickled beets sandwiched between two slices of focaccia. But my heart belongs to their cool and fragrant lassis, made—as everything at Saltie tends to be—from scratch.
Armed with Caroline Fidanza's new cookbook, I've started to make my own lassis at home during the week. (They keep rather humane hours at the restaurant—10am to 6pm—so making the trip is exclusively a Saturday ritual.) And with persimmons lighting up my walk home through the night markets in Chinatown, I didn't have to look far for inspiration for a variation on their recipe. I've also added some cardamom to the recipe to give it a wintry feel, even though it's a cold drink. And to sweeten it up, a little Vermont maple syrup.
They key to this recipe, in my opinion, is to make the yogurt from scratch and to grind your own cardamom. You'll do the Saltie girls proud. —Hallie
Heat milk over medium-high in a small saucepan until an instant-read thermometer registers 180 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, don't worry. You just want to wait until the milk is on the verge of boiling, but not yet at a boil. You'll see little bubbles gently froth around the edge of the pan. A skin will probably form. Turn heat off and let milk cool to 110 degrees, about twenty minutes. How will you know when it's 110 degrees? Try leaving a finger in there for 20 seconds.
Add the yogurt to the warm milk but don't stir. Pour mixture into a container, seal, and leave the mixture in a not-too-drafty area of your kitchen overnight.
Even if you're yogurt is not as thick as what you might buy, don't fret. After all, you're going to liquify it!
Pound cardamom pods using a mortar and pestle, splitting them and loosening the seeds. After removing the seeds, discard the green pods to the best of your ability. Grind the seeds coarsely.
Peel and halve the persimmons.
Add all ingredients in order listed to the blender and mix until smooth.
Taste your lassi. Need more sweet? Add a touch of syrup. More tart? Add another spoonful of yogurt. Once you're happy, pour into small glasses, garnish with any leftover cardamom and serve.