Monday, March 06, 2006

Lassi Come Home

Usually, when I go out to eat, I don't bother with a beverage. I don't drink, and who needs extra calories piling up on top of the food? Water is fine.

However, whenever I eat at an Indian restaurant, I have a very hard time resisting a Mango Lassi. It's a simple drink, made of yogurt and sweetened mango pulp. (The original "smoothie".) Lassis are also generally available in mango or plain flavors (and the plain can be sweet or salty) and sometimes is available in other fruit flavors, like strawberry.

Not only is a lassi rich, but the sharp sweet and sour flavors are great for cutting the heat in a spicey dish. Which is why it can be good to make them at home. (As I did this weekend for my Oscar party, for which I made hot wings.)

Oriental Mart (2800 E Grand River Ave, east of East Lansing) -- and probably other asian groceries around the place -- offers canned mango pulp (sweetened). You really do want to get canned or frozen pulp. Processing a mango is difficult and messy, and the sweetness varies a lot.

To make a proper lassi, you mix about a half cup of pulp with a half cup of whole-milk plain yogurt. (And I like to drain the yogurt a bit to make it richer -- scoop some out of the container, and drain off the whey that drains into the hole.) And then a half cup of water. You can add some ice to replace some of the water. Or, as I did with the Oscar party, put in a half cup of sparkling apple or grape juice. (You know, the St. Julian's stuff.) If you like it sweeter, put in a little sugar or honey.

Or if you want to see what it tastes like before you try to make it, order up some mango lassi you visit one of the local Indian restaurants:

India Palace, 340 Albert Ave, East Lansing
Sindhu, 4790 S Hagadorn Rd, Hannah Plaza, East Lansing
Taj, 2820 E Grand River, Lansing (West of Frandor)

All three of these restaurants have decent lunch buffets, if you want to try a variety of their food. (And note: I've never actually had a lassi at India Palace.)

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