Lassi came home cool as a cucumber

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mango lassi
Mango lassi and cucumber, mint and lime aguafresca, are two cooling alternatives to water and carbonated drinks. credit: monishgujral.com

THE recent spell of prolonged heatwave conditions has everyone reaching for rehydration liquids throughout the day and night.

Water is good, well very good, but quite boring, well very boring actually, whilst alcohol is good, but bad, well very bad actually and could make you even more dehydrated.

So, what are the healthy alternatives, to carbonated and mass produced sugar or sweetener loaded soft drinks, that will quench the thirst and keep the’ lipsmackin’ taste buds happy too?

Here are a couple of delicious ways to keep refreshed and boost your vitamin count at the same time:

MANGO LASSI

Sweet and rich mango lassi, with mango, milk, yogurt, sugar and a dash of cardamom.

Lassi is the milkshake of the Indian subcontinent. Creamily nourishing, it’s also thirst-quenching. Typically a choice of sweet or salted plain lassi is offered.

Indians living in India, generally prefer the salty variety, as it replaces the salts lost from the body, in the sweaty, humid weather building up to the monsoon season and they will often substitute it for a meal when the temperatures are really intense.

However, it is rather an acquired taste for the uninitiated palate, so fruity, sweeter varieties are the best way to start for lassi virgins.

Mango, the archetypal tropical fruit, abundant at this time of year is the most favoured choice in most Indian restaurants, with it’s cool, creamy texture.

They are easy to make at home and you can use either canned mango pulp or cubed fresh or frozen mango.

If you use fresh, you’ll want to use a ripe, sweet mango, whereas if your mango isn’t ripe enough it will be too tart and you’ll have to add more sugar or honey than you would like.

Depending on how ripe and sweet your mango is, or if you are using canned and already sweetened mango pulp, you will need to add more or less honey or sugar to the lassi.

If you have cardamom pods, crush the pods to remove the seeds, then grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle.

Ingredients:

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup milk

1 cup chopped very ripe mango (see how to peel and chop mango), frozen chopped mango, or a cup of canned mango pulp

4 teaspoons honey or sugar, more or less to taste

A dash of ground cardamom (optional)

Ice (optional)

Method:

Put mango, yogurt, milk, sugar and cardamom into a blender and blend for 2 minutes.

If you want a more milkshake consistency and it’s a hot day, either blend in some ice as well or serve over ice cubes.

Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of ground cardamom to serve.

The lassi can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

CUCUMBER LIME MINT AGUA FRESCA

Cool and refreshing agua fresca made with cucumbers, lime, and mint, is a perfect way to cool down on a hot day

Agua frescas are refreshing fruit drinks popular all over Mexico, found at almost any taqueria, as they’re cooling, sweet and  great alongside spicy food.

This particular aguafresca is made with cucumbers, fresh limes, and mint and it’s the cucumber juice base that seems to have the effect of lowering the body temperature.

Ingredients:

1 lb of cucumbers (about 2 good sized cucumbers), ends trimmed, but peel still on, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup lime juice from fresh limes (from about 1 pound of limes, or 5 to 10 limes, depending on how juicy they are)

1 1/4 cup packed (spearmint) mint leaves (about a large handful), woody stems removed

1/2 cup sugar

Approximately 1 1/4 cup of water

Method:

1 Blend ingredients: Put ingredients in blender, add enough water to fill 3/4 of blender. Hold the lid on the blender and purée until smooth.

2 Strain out solids: Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the purée through it, pressing against the sieve with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid out as possible.

3 Add ice: Fill a large pitcher halfway with ice cubes. Add the juice. Serve with sprigs of mint and slices of lime.

One final beauty tip as a footnote, apparently you can take the purée solids and use them as a facial mask!

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