Tag Archives: Cardamom

Drink Up! Spiced Mango Lassi

Drink Up! Spiced Mango Lassi

HMMMMM.  Mango Lassi, so tasty and so good for you (gluten-free, low fat and everything!).  Growing up when the summers were super hot and the Mangoes were ripe, it was a perfect combination for enjoying this refreshing drink.  The local yogurt was tart and the Mangoes sweet and my mom would add some spices to make the mixture just right.  We never got a big glass to drink.  It was always too small and we drank it slowly to make it last, tilting the glass all the way up and getting a Mango Lassi Moustache in the process.  I still love how it makes me feel just to take a long sip. And I still try to make my glass of Mango Lassi last, kind of like the last day of summer!

The cast of characters: Yogurt (I like Greek), Mangoes, Cardamom, Cloves and Cinnamon sticks, sugar

Make a spiced simple syrup by boiling water, sugar and the spices

Strain the spices and pour syrup into a little mason jar - this stuff is so wonderful, great for ice teas, regular teas....

To cut up the Mangoes: flip the skin down to pop the mango cubes "up"

Cut the cubes from the skin

Blend Ice, Mangoes, Yogurt and spicy simple syrup together

Serve immediately

Sip slowly and make it last

Here’s the recipe:

Spiced Mango Lassi

2 ripe Mangoes, cubed

1 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I like Greek yogurt, but it will make it more tart)

5-6 ice cubes

2-3 tablespoons of the Simple Syrup with spices (you can add more or less, it’s up to you)

Simple Syrup with spices

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 sticks of Cinnamon

5 whole cloves

5-6 Green Cardamom pods, crushed (use skins and seeds for the syrup)

To make the syrup:

Place water, sugar and spices in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Boil a minute or so until all the sugar is dissolved and the spices release their aromas.  Strain the syrup and pour into a glass mason jar to store.  This syrup is fantastic.  I not only use it for this recipe but for making Peach ice tea, Ginger Peach Ice tea,  or just adding a little to my regular hot tea.  It’s a wonderful addition to keep in the fridge.  If you’d prefer not to use any processed sugar, you can make simple syrup with honey, just add a little lemon juice to the mixture to keep it from crystallizing.

To make the Lassi:

In a blender put the ice in first, then add yogurt, Mangoes and the simple syrup.  Blend for a few minutes until smooth and serve immediately!

Masala Chai

Masala Chai

Chai is the Bengali, Urdu, Hindi (and a lot of other Indian languages) word for TEA.  In Arabic or Farsi it’s pronounced “Shai”.  The word literally and simply means tea.  In most South Asian countries when we add spices to our tea, we call it “Masala Chai”  which means Tea with Spices.  In recent years, the western world has discovered this Tea with Spices and have marketed it with fervor in various formats calling it Chai Tea (which is like saying “Tea Tea”).  Growing up in Bangladesh, Chai is a quintessential part of everyday life.  It’s the most basic form of hospitality. It is always offered, everywhere.   You can walk into a bank to open an account and five minutes into the transaction Chai will be offered and poured.  You usually have to specify if you want Masala Chai or regular Chai.  Regular Chai is always prepared with milk and sugar while Masala Chai has a variety of spices which makes it delicious and fragrant.  This sharing of Chai is so cultural that no business is conducted without it nor any meaningful conversation.  The making, pouring and drinking of tea by nature slows things down.  You know that you cannot go anywhere without allowing some time for tea drinking.  I miss that living in the West.  We rush around so much everyday that often we miss making connections with each other in meaningful ways.

I’m sharing with you my version of Masala Chai. Pull up a chair, relax and take a drink.  I’ll have my cup out too!

Ingredients at a glance

Add crushed Cardamoms with the pods to the milk and water mixture

Bring milk, water and spice mixture to a low simmer

Add tea bags and then sugar to taste

Use strainer when pouring to strain out the spices

Masala Chai

Making quilts and drinking Masala Chai with friends

Here’s the recipe:

Masala Chai

2 cups 1% or skim milk

3 1/2 cups of water

2 Cinnamon sticks

5 green Cardamom pods, crushed

4-5 whole cloves

1/4 cup sugar

4 tea bags

In a sauce pan heat milk and water together.  Add the spices (including the Cardamom pod skin and seeds) and bring to a low simmer.  Add in the tea bags until the color becomes a light, nutty brown.  Slowly add in the sugar (if you prefer more sugar add more or if you want to leave out the sugar you can as well).  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Using a strainer over each cup, pour tea and serve.  For a refreshing summertime drink you can serve this chilled or over ice.

Pati Shapta Pitha (Bengali Style Crepes)

Pati Shapta Pitha (Bengali Style Crepes)

Every year during the months of January through March the first crops of rice are harvested and readied in Bangladesh.  The first fresh rice harvest is used in making many different kinds of desserts called “Pitha”.  The tastes are delightful and the season is especially nice and cool.  I loved this time of year growing up, not only because the weather was great but because we got to eat all kinds of Pithas that we never got to enjoy at any other time of year.   Even though we have access to rice flour all year long, it’s especially nostalgic for me to make Pithas in the early part of the year, just because it reminds me of my childhood when things were simple, uncomplicated and filled with simple joys of being with family and friends.

This particular Pitha is called “Pati Shapta” which loosely translated means to make flat and roll.   Which is exactly what this is;  a Bengali crepe!

Pitha (Crepe part):

6 cups All Purpose flour

2 cups Rice Flour

½ cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

10 cups water

Sift together all- purpose flour, rice flour, salt and baking powder together.  Add sugar to the mixture and mix well.  Add beaten eggs then slowly add the water whisking to prevent any lumps.  The mixture should be a rather thin batter.

Filling:

8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick)

2 Large Cinnamon sticks

5-6 Cardamom pods, crushed

1 ½ cup Sooji (Farina)

1 Cup Desiccated Coconut (just look for smaller flakes instead of long stringy flakes)

¾ cup brown sugar (or date palm sugar otherwise known as Jaggery, if you have that handy)

1 quart half and half

Let’s start with the filling.  In a heavy bottom 5-6 quart dutch oven heat butter until melted.  Add Cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks and stir fry until fragrant.  Add the Shooji (farina) and cook over medium high heat stirring constantly.

When the color reaches a light  toasty brown color and begins to smell nice and toasty (about 6-8 minutes), add the desiccated coconut flakes and stir fry another 3 minutes.  Slowly add in the half and half to the mixture and continue stirring.  Mixture should start thickening very quickly.

Slowly add brown sugar ¼ cup at a time and tasting as you go along to make sure the sweetness is not too much.  You can add more sugar to make it sweeter or less depending on taste.  Continue stirring until all the liquid is absorbed and the filling  becomes a soft paste like consistency.  Kind of like smooth peanut butter.  Take out the Cinnamon sticks, remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Heat a  5 inch non-stick frying pan over medium high heat, brush the bottom of the pan with a little bit of vegetable oil and pour ¼ cup of batter in the middle and quickly tilt the pan in a circular motion to coat the bottom of the pan and place on back on the heat.  Little bubbles should start appearing all over the batter.  Within  35 seconds or so, the crepe should be ready (do not flip it over).

Take off the heat and place about 2 tablespoons of filling on one edge of the crepe and roll it into a tube.

Lightly flatten.  You can enjoy it warm or at room temperature. Makes about 50 Pithas.  Since each person will at least eat two, it will serve about 20-25 people.