Lassi with gur, with black pepper or a tall glass blended with seasonal fruits. Back in the day as teenage boys growing up in Patiala, chef Amitesh Virdi, executive chef of Punjab Grill and his brother, experimented with various flavours as they competed to make the best lassi combos. “My brother and I would always be welcomed home with a tall glass of lassi. Lassi has a special place in his memories and he remembers downing a glass with every meal during his childhood. Virdi now ensures that his daughter has her daily share of lassi in the hopes that she gets a taste of Patiala, “but she is probably just busy making one of her own home memories,” he adds.
A smooth and creamy curd-based drink, traditionally served in kulhads, lassi is cooling and refreshing. While a tall glass of lassi defies seasonality, most prefer to drink it as a healthy way to stave off the heat. This probiotic drink is gut-friendly, rich in calcium and protein, and delicious!
Not to be confused with chaach or buttermilk—churned from yoghurt after the fat is skimmed off—lassi is made by whisking curd and water with a sweetener or salt, explains Virdi. However, both lassi and chaach are rich in probiotics, aids digestion and strengthens the immune system.
How to make a basic glass of lassi
While some love their lassi thick and creamy, Virdi prefers it slightly runny. All it takes to make a glass of fresh lassi is a basic mix of curd, water and sugar, says Virdi. Then simply adjust these ingredients as per your liking, keeping in mind your drink’s consistency and sweetness. Whisk your glass of lassi well to achieve a harmonious result. Make sure to pour it from one glass to another to get a lovely frothy top recommends Virdi. This glass of lassi can now be treated as a plain canvas for you to get experimental like adding a pinch of cardamom powder, a mawa peda, pistachio or malai on top, for a royal finish.
Not just Punjab, lassi is loved by Indians all over the country. It is sold in little roadside shacks, mithai stores and restaurants. This is evident from the countless variations of lassi that go beyond the sweet and salty: ranging from infusions of cumin, cardamom, mint, saffron, black pepper, fruits to even hearty kick of bhaang. Scroll on to know more about these delicious and tasty versions of the Indian smoothie.
Sweet lassi is nothing but a blissful combination of curd, water and sugar to give you a quick sugar fix to fuel the day. However, some sweet lassi recipes replace white sugar with healthier alternatives. Jaggery, for instance, makes for one of the best sugar substitutes mainly because it is natural and boasts of a number of health benefits. Apart from jaggery, maple syrup, stevia and even honey can act as sugar substitutes.
A stark contrast to the sweet lassi, the salted or namkeen version of the lassi. Some recipes call for the use of good old salt, while some for rock salt to add a touch of saltiness to the lassi. Whatever your choice, make sure you relish this glass of savoury lassi at room temperature and not straight out of your refrigerator, warns Ayurveda. Anything cold is known to constrict digestion, and lassi is anyway a heavy and dense food, which is why it is best to not be had chilled.
Also read: Cold Soups to help you stay cool this summer
Bhaang lassi is made of yoghurt or curd, nuts, spices, rose water, and of course, cannabis. For most Hindus, consumption of bhaang is connected to the mythology surrounding Lord Shiva. On festivals such as Holi and Shivratri, bhaang-laced drinks are easily available. In Varanasi, indulging in a glass or two of bhaang lassi is very common; bhaang delicacies such as laddoos and pakoras, is legally sold on streets.
Unlike regular lassi that is prepared with yoghurt, Kachi lassi is made with milk, water, rose syrup and ice. ‘Kachi’ literally translating to uncooked, this lassi hardly takes a few minutes to be prepared. All you need is equal proportions of water and milk, some rose syrup, ice and of course a glass. Mix everything till you get drink in a pink hue. In most homes, Rooh Afza is the preferred choice for rose syrup, however you can always prepare your own at home using rose petals, or you can make a rose syrup with food grade colour and flavour.
For those who like to spice things up, the masala lassi variation could be the best bet. Most recipes let the spice cabinet take over inspiring a myriad of masala lassi variations. From black salt, chaat masala, red chilli powder, garam masala, saffron, cinnamon or cardamom, to fresh herbs like coriander, mint, or even basil – this natural summer drink can be spiked with almost anything and everything.
While the mango lassi is undoubtedly the most cherished summer combination, other fruits such as banana, papaya, strawberry, pomegranate, apple, blueberry, grape, guava, orange, pear, pineapple and more can find their way into this curd-based drink. As for those who like to experiment, there are endless ingredients—coconut, chocolate, coffee and more—that you can add to the classic lassi to give it a delicious makeover.
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