Mango Lassi, a sweet summer cooler

It’s not even May and the temperature here in south Florida is already in the 80’s.  Gardening needs to be started no later than 9:00 am but, really, 8:00 am is much better.  That way when it begins to truly heat up, like around noon, you’re almost used to it.  Okay, that may be a stretch, getting used to  the heat, but at least you’ve been at it long enough that you can take a break.  Sometimes I get so hot when I’m working outside that I don’t even want to eat.  Hard to believe judging from the size of me but true it is.  And going for a power run or walk after 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning is a serious mistake.  It’s all sunshine and palms until my mouth is dry, saliva thick and the only thought plodding through my mind is “Whom can I call to come pick me up?”.

During our hot days, and most of our days are scorching hot, I’m always down for an iced matcha or my new favorite, a sunny yellow, cool and sweet mango lassi.  Hailing from India, lassis are yoghurt based with mango, guava or lychee added along with water and sometimes nuts, spices or mint.  We recently were served mango lassis at my niece’ s Hindu wedding which was stunningly gorgeous and outside…late in the afternoon sun.  The drinks were served from a gazebo at the Historical Society and were welcomed by all.  Cool and so very refreshing, they functioned as a reminder of not only how much I love mangoes but also how much I enjoy the brilliant combination of tangy yoghurt blended with the sugar sweet pulp of the mango.  As kids we grew up on mangos, both in Puerto Rico and Fort Lauderdale.  In Puerto Rico an adult would peel and cut the fruit then serve it to us in small colorful bowls… to be eaten and savored with a fork.  It was a different story in Fort Lauderdale.  This was a time when all your friends lived in the neighborhood.  We were all allowed to walk or ride bikes to each other’s houses, the area where we all lived was set back off a busy boulevard.  Our streets were connected by bridges and were all dead ends.  Only one way in and one way out.  We spent those carefree days outside, sometimes not even bothering to go home for lunch.  Coconuts on the ground were split open and the meat devoured.  Bananas on our trees and neighbors trees were boldly swiped and promptly snacked upon.  But the most highly prized playtime treat was, you guessed it, the mango.  If there weren’t any ripe ones on the ground or if birds had pecked all the grounded fruit, there was always one of us willing to shimmy up the tree to shake a few down.  We bit through the skin, easily peeled the mangoes then luxuriated in the fruits of our labor.  Mangoes stain clothing and our mammas would have no part of that so mostly we ate them and sucked on the pits over the shallow end of someone’s swimming pool.  Plus pool water was the perfect vehicle to wash one’s hands and face after that particularly messy snack.  All this comes back to me at the mere whiff of the ripe fruit.  I believe I was served my first lassi years ago when I was in my early 20’s and lived in Atlanta.  I was hooked on them but somehow… I don’t know… I guess they slipped my mind until a few weeks ago.  Gentle Readers, mango lassis are refreshing, delicious and equally simple to prepare.  Four ingredients blitzed in a blender yield a nutritious beverage which will fill you with energy, satisfy your hunger and cleans and calms your gut like nobody’s business.  So do your body a favor and treat yourself right with an ice-cold mango lassi on a scorching summer day.

Mango lassis are so easy to prepare.  Whole fat, reduced fat and fat-free yoghurt are all perfectly fine to use as is whole milk, almond milk, coconut or soy milk.  Any type of honey will sweeten this drink just the way you like it.  For a special touch, a pinch of dried hibiscus flower powder or ground cardamom takes the drink to a higher level.  I found the hibiscus powder at Walmart.  Or, if serving this to guests, consider chopping a few peanuts and scattering them over the top of the lassi.  Mmmmm… so good.  Really, the only hard, fast rules are that your mango must be fresh and must be super ripe in order to impart that famous mango flavor.  Those frozen bags of mango at the grocery store?  Keep on walking past that freezer case because those frozen chunks of mango are under-ripe and have no flavor.  It’s mango season right now and the ideal time to pick up a couple of mangos to leave on your kitchen window sill.  In a few day’s time they’ll deepen in color and flavor and perfume your kitchen with the sexy, unmistakable aroma of the mango.


Mango Lassi

  • 2 cups ripe mango, chopped
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons honey, depending on how sweet your mango is
  • pinch of dried hibiscus flower powder or ground cardamom, optional
  1. Add mango, yoghurt, milk and honey to your blender and process until smooth.
  2. Taste and adjust adding more mango or honey if needed.
  3. Pour into glasses, add topping is using and serve.

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