We've all probably tried a mango lassi at our favorite Indian restaurant, but have you ever tasted a papaya lassi? Full of sweetness and tang, this dreamy drink will cool you off and transport you to the subcontinent. Acha! (Hindi for 'All right!').
Being in Southern India from August to early spring, when papayas were flourishing, there was hardly a mango to be found. Af first, I was disappointed, I came all the way to India and I would be missing mango season, which usually occurs between May through July. All that mango–deprived sadness was forgotten the moment I took one bite into a ripe, juicy papaya and my tropical fruit allegiance was shifted entirely. The papayas in India are a revelatory experience. Their texture is dense, and juicy, their flavor floral and rich. Cutting into a perfectly-ripened papaya, it's aromatic seeds gleaming, is just lovely. Add a sprinkle of lime juice and that's it, your mind will be blown.
I was taught to prepare this lassi by the owner of an Inn in Panjim, Goa. She recommended the pinch of cardamom and its subtle flavor really adds dimensionality to this simple recipe.
Have you had a papaya lassi before?
1 heaping cup fresh papaya, cut into rough chunks
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 heaping tablespoon sugar, honey or agave (I used agave syrup)
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse until combined. Pour into chilled glasses and refrigerate for a about 10 minutes before serving. Keeps well covered for about a day.
Note: This recipe is easily adaptable to most any fruit. You can use banana or mango (or berries are great, not traditional in Indian dishes) with great results.
Related: DIY Mango Lassi
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)