Here's a good question from reader Kim, who is craving a real mango lassi, made at home!
I love Indian food, and I really love the mango lassis that you can get at Indian restaurants. I have looked up recipes online and even bought cookbooks, but no matter how many recipes I have tried I just can't make a good one! Maybe there is some secret I am missing? Please help, I would love to have a nice mango lassi at home!
Kim, this question is near and dear to my own heart. I was introduced to Indian food via mango lassis, and at the time, I thought they were the best thing I had ever tasted. Ever.
I tried making them at home too, but recipes never panned out. I took to gently interrogating a friend who owned an Indian restaurant, and she said that she used buttermilk and mango puree. I managed to get a passably good mango lassi using these two ingredients.
The primary key, I think, is using the boxed mango puree that you can buy at Asian groceries. Not the nectar or the juice, and definitely not fresh mangos. Fresh mangos (at least the sorts we get in the States) don't have enough flavor, and you have to do an extra step to strain out all the fibers too. The boxed mango puree is much more concentrated and sweet.
Cultured buttermilk, too, will help you get that authentic taste. At least two Indian restaurants have told me that they use buttermilk in their lassis. In India, lassi is traditionally made with yogurt, but I have found that lassis made with all yogurt don't work quite right either.
Hopefully this helps! Here's the final recipe that I use now, after quite a bit of experimenting:
• DIY Mango Lassi - This recipe still calls for ripe mangos, since I was living in Florida when I wrote it and had access to much better mangos there! I would skip them and use twice the amount of mango puree instead.
Related: Summer Cocktail: The Fresh Mango Sweet Escape
(Image: Flickr member Ross Burton licensed for use under Creative Commons)