Cooking story with practical tips on mango cultivars & flavors.
Differences between milkshake, Lassi & smoothie
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"What other flavours of sweet Lassi are popular, Ma?" Hosh asked.
"Mango Lassi is the most well-known flavor worldwide," she answered. "Even though you can make sweet Lassi with many syrups and fruits. It is widely available in the UK, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore."
"And like other flavors," he mimicked her, "is it cheap and simple, fast and easy to prepare, versatile and delicious? And can you serve it to almost anyone, anywhere, anytime?"
"You bet," she laughed, and wrote up an Ingredients list for his Recipe Book. It read:
- 1 cup Dahee (about 250 gm Greek style yogurt)
- 1/2 glass chilled water (about 100 mL, or similar quantity crushed ice)
- 1 sliced peeled ripe mango (or ½ cup mango pulp)
- Sugar or honey to taste, optional
- 1 teaspoon chopped nuts (pistachio, cashew or almonds)
- 1 Mint Sprig (podina leaves, if not using nuts)
- 1 pinch ground green cardamom seeds
"Mangoes are generally sweet, although the taste and texture of the flesh varies across varieties. Some have a soft, pulpy texture like an overripe Aalu Bukhara (plum). Others are firmer, like a Kharbuza (cantaloupe) or an avocado. Yet others have a fibrous texture."
"Pieces of ripe mango can be mashed and eaten raw as dessert, used as a topping on ice-creams or blended with milk or yoghurt to make milkshakes, Lassis and smoothies."
"Ma," Hosh asked. "Can't I use mango pulp instead of using fresh mangoes to make Mango Lassi?"
"Different kinds of mango pulp can be brought from the grocery stores these days," Isha replied. "You can use them if you are in a hurry, or if fresh mangoes are not available, or if they are more expensive than pulp."
"In Canada, Mango Lassi is popularly made with sweetened kesar (saffron) flavored mango pulp blended with yoghourt, cream, or ice-cream, and served in tall glasses with straws, often with ground pistachio nuts sprinkled on top."
"Alphonso mangoes are also quite famous in many countries, due to their full, lovely, balanced flavor. Try different mango or mango pulp flavors, and you'll find those that give you most pleasure in your Lassi!"
"Just remember though, that pulps are already sweetened whereas a fresh mango may not be that sweet. So, go easy on adding sugar or honey, when you are using pulp instead of fresh fruit."
She ground the ice in a blender and poured it in two empty glasses as she spoke. Meanwhile, Hosh had peeled and roughly sliced the mango, and collected the other ingredients. He hand blended the mango with two spoonful curd until it had completely broken down and had pureed well.
Then pouring the rest of the Dahi in the food processor, he blended it all again for a few seconds to get consistency. Pouring it on ice straightaway, he garnished it and handed a glass to his mother.
"Mmm!" she said, after taking a sip. He beamed.
"Another important thing," she tipped, "is that fresh yogurt should be used in making any flavor of sweet Lassi, as curd sours over time. If you are using older or soured curd, add some milk to kill the sourness, but then you won't have true Lassi. You'll have a smoothie."
"The difference between Lassi, Smoothie and a Shake is that Lassi is made only with yoghourt and no milk. A Shake is made only with milk, cream and ice creams, but no yogurt. Smoothie is made by mixing yoghurt with milk, creams and ice-creams to make the drink."
"Most fruits can be used to flavor either of these three. Lassis are best served with, before or after meals. Smoothies and shakes are best served alone. All three variants are healthy and richly nutritious, and alone can be considered as complete meals."
"For a thicker sweeter Lassi, add more pulp, fruit or honey and use Dahi without the whey. Your Pa likes his Lassi so thick, I use only yoghurt and no water at all for him. Josh likes it frothy, so I blend his Lassi until it is nice and bubbly."
"Adding crushed ice while blending ingredients will also temporarily thicken the Lassi up a bit. You can also use frozen mangos instead of the canned fruit. They're not processed like the canned stuff is."
"Adding a teaspoon of Gulaab Jal (rose water) per serve will do wonders to its flavor too. Put it into the blender, not the glasses, along with the cardamoms to get a consistently luscious richness throughout your drink."
"Ma," asked Hosh. "Aren't cardamoms called Hari Ilaychi in Hindi (इलायची) and Chhoti Ilaichi in Punjabi?"
"Yea," she smiled. "They are also called Elachi in Bengali. All these names have a common Sanskrit root ela (एला) or ellka (एल्ल्का). Anyway, you can also salt your mango Lassi a bit, if you are using mint sprigs to garnish it. In that case, don't use rose water and cardamoms at all."
Next Story: Mango Milkshake With Cardamom (Pending Publication)