Summer is giving us a sneak preview. As we start swapping out heavy clothes for the ventilating light and airy little numbers, we make other adjustments too, such as, evening summer strolls and a change of attitude towards our food and drink. No longer do we look to food for solace, taking the form of ghastly calories laden with fat. Oh no! The summer empowers us and we make healthier choices.
For me personally, it was tricky to switch my daily afternoon latte with any other drink. Unlike most beverages, the latte doubled up as a drink and snack – keeping that afternoon rumbling stomach at bay. However, a hot milk drink doesn’t make the cut in sweltering heat. It was time to find my replacement. I tried smoothies for a while but the sugar was making me crash-and-die within a couple of hours. Finally, I found my summer love – Lassi, the Indian yoghurt drink.
It is 4p.m on the Indian sub-continent and people throughout the country pull out their blenders, spices and sweet or savory ingredients to make ‘Lassi’. The base of the drink is yoghurt, crushed ice, water and whatever flavor ingredient your palate beckons. Incorporating yoghurt in meals throughout the day is common practice in India thanks to its friendly bacteria, such as L. Acidophilus. It is great for digestion and relieves bloating, leaving you feeling light, fresh and without that afternoon ‘fog’.
Need a sugar hit? Throw in some ripe mango pieces or a handful of berries and a touch of sugar. For a decadent and dessert-like lassi, add some nuts, cardamom and honey. For a fiery fix, add green chilies, fresh cilantro and tempered mustard seeds. For me, I like the spa-like, low carb version with cucumber, salt, black pepper and a hint of mint. Don’t be thrown off by the last 2 versions. In India, the original lassi was served only in savory form and served that way by design. The salt aids in quenching thirst while replenishing lost minerals.
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Try today’s recipe of my Spa-lassi version. With cooling cucumber and mint added to peppery yoghurt you will be hooked!
- 1 Israeli cucumber (seedless), (you can peel it if you like)
- Plain yogurt (whole milk or low fat), 1 ½ cup
- Fresh mint, loosely packed ¼ cup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Jalapeno (optional)
- 5 cubes of ice
- ½ cup of water
Blend the yoghurt with cucumber, mint and salt and pepper (if using jalapeno, add now too) and ice.
While the motor is running, stream in the water.
Serve in chilled glasses with a sprig of mint for garnish.
Saira Malhotra is a classically trained French chef and graduate from the French Culinary Institute. A British born Punjabi, Saira has grown up around food which started from her family pizza business in a small suburb of London. Having studied in France and Italy and living in the Big Apple for the past 12 years, Saira has brought her European, Asian and American influences together via the palate and communicated through her food blog ‘Passport Pantry’.