Mango lassi: a refreshing Indian drink that’s the perfect antidote to this summer heat
Summertime in Cape Town brings all my favourite fruits. I’m talking watermelon, berries and, of course, mangoes. But I’ve got a problem with buying a few too many fruits at a time, particularly the latter, and before long I feel I have to let that overripe man go.
Forgive my ridiculous puns in the sweltering heat. Instead, I raise you the tasty, refreshing lassi – a dairy-based Indian drink, a lot like a milkshake – made from dahi (yoghurt), water and spices, with the addition of mango.
It’s thick, creamy and utterly delicious – while also having rumoured healing properties and surprising health benefits.
Let me take you on a journey through Punjab.
The origin of the mango lassi
Made by churning curd, lassis are thought to have originated in the Punjab region of Northern India and Eastern Pakistan. They date back to around 1000 BC, according to research done by Simply Recipes, and were believed to have the healing properties of Ayurvedic – an alternative, pseudoscientific medicine system with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent.
Also thought to calm the stomach – and mind – and aid digestion, lassis would often accompany a meal. But let me share my recipe with you first.
Flesh of one big, ripe mango
1/3 cup double-cream yoghurt
1/2 cup milk OR 1/4 cup milk with 1/4 cup water (you can also add ice instead of water to make it even colder on those hotter days)
2 tbsp honey
Seeds of 2-3 cardamom pods, depending on whether or not you like the polarising taste of cardamom (I grind them up before the time to make around a 1/4 tsp of cardamom powder, so you don’t get chunks of it in your mouth)
Squeeze of lemon (optional, if your mangoes are super sweet and you prefer a sweet-sour taste)
Blend all the above together and enjoy!
The health benefits
Rumoured healing properties aside, it’s not hard to see how a mango lassi, specifically, can be believed to have health benefits.
The yoghurt and mango in particular have immune-boosting, digestion-aiding properties.
Mangoes, for one, have a high amount of fibre, which improves digestion, while containing high levels of polyphenols (organic compounds that improve the function of the inner lining of the heart and blood vessels), which increases good cholesterol and decreases bad cholesterol, according to an article by UK-based Indian restaurant – and London’s oldest tandoori restaurant –
Further, they speak of mango lassi and the yoghurt in it containing lactic acid and vitamin D, which improves your body’s resistance to certain diseases, while lactobacilli, or rather, Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus), a type of probiotic, or ‘good’ bacteria, found in the human gut, helps break down food, as per Web MD.
Cape Town-based dietician Aasiyah Karriem reiterates: “Mangoes have a range of health benefits providing you with fibre to help aid digestion and a high vitamin C content, which improves iron absorption, helps defend cells from damage and aids the immune system.
She adds, however: “It has a high sugar content and needs to be consumed with caution for diabetic patients.”
“Yoghurt (containing L. acidophilus) provides a number of health benefits. However, there are many different strains of L. acidophilus and they can each have different effects on your body. The main benefit includes promoting gut health. Probiotics found in yoghurt aid digestive health by reducing the symptoms of common gastrointestinal disorders, such as bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.”
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