I was born and brought up in India. I moved away when I was twenty-one, but as most expatriates will know, India never leaves you. Which is why the major inspiration for my own website The Tiffin Box is my childhood memories of growing up in this amazing, crazy, unpredictable country.
We lived in a century-old red-tiled house, surrounded by coconut trees and a tropical fruit tree orchard. Mangos, bananas, grapefruit, lime bushes, guavas, passion-fruit vines and, yes, avocados were all just a tree climb (and the occasional bone thumping fall on backside) away.
The avocado tree in our front yard, in particular, was very prolific. Every year it produced hundreds of avocados, to the point where we had no clue what to do with all the abundance of fruit. Growing up, we weren't really exposed to food from different cultures so guacamole was unheard of. Mom usually made sweets and puddings with avocados, but there is only so much you can do with avocados before going a little stir crazy.
So, more often than not, we ended up using the excess fruit as compost. Yes, a terrible waste, I know... as my poor mom soon found out. Mother was visiting me in England, and she headed out to shop for groceries. Sainsbury's was selling avocados for a pound each and dear mom came back completely flustered and absolutely horrified at the price of fruit that we would compost back home. "One pound," she said to me, her eyes wide and fascinated. "One pound... eighty rupees. Madness, madness it is. Madness. Throwing away those avocados, we were, and one pound they are here..." (Say this in an Indian accent, and it makes perfect sense.)
She's never lived down that avocado experience, and I often catch her recounting it to my numerous awestruck relatives in India, complete with hands thrown up in the air, everybody fascinated by the law of supply and demand.
In India, avocados are often referred to as butterfruits, a term I love as it perfectly evokes their texture and creaminess. One of my favorite ways of using avocados is my mom's recipe for this simple, creamy lassi. We picked our avocados off the tree when they were completely ripe, so mom would refrigerate them straightaway. She would then make this simple, easy drink as our after-school snack, and it was certainly a welcome boost of chilled energy on those blazing hot, sunny Indian afternoons.
The flavors of this lassi are very traditional to India. Cardamom seeds add fragrance and sweetness, while the light, delicate notes of rosewater enhance the floral creaminess. This lassi comes together in less than five minutes, and the yogurt helps it retain its bright green color, so you can make this in advance and refrigerate it. Its the perfect after-school boost snack, and you can also churn it to make delicious avocado "lassi" ice cream.
I look back fondly at my avocado tree. And knowing what I do now, I would have never wasted another one of these precious fruits. Now, however, it's all about those choice curses when I am actually paying money for my avocados. (Sigh, Mom, I know how you feel.)
Creamy Avocado Lassi
Serves 2 generously
2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup plain or Greek-style yogurt
1 cup whole milk
2-3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
4 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
1 tablespoon rosewater or gingery syrup (optional)
Slice the avocado in half, lengthwise. Remove the pit, peel and roughly chop. (See step-by-step instructions: How To Dice an Avocado)
Add the yogurt, milk, sugar, crushed cardamom seeds, and rosewater to the blender and process to a creamy consistency. Taste and sweeten more, if required.
This lassi can be made ahead and kept refrigerated. Serve chilled.
You can replace the yogurt and milk with soy or almond milk for a dairy free and vegan version.You may have to rub the avocados with a little lime juice, if making this version.
Honey can be used in place of sugar.
The rosewater adds a delicate floral note to the lassi, and I highly recommend adding some, if you have it.
Alternatively, ginger syrup is a delicious, spicy addition. I buy ginger syrup at my local Purdy's (a chocolate shop), however, you can use syrup from jars of preserved ginger.