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!
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!
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!
Here’s the recipe:
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.
Who makes Baklava on a beautiful, Spring, Thursday afternoon? I guess I do. In today’s Cultural Aspects of Food class at the University of Utah we enjoyed a bounty of Fillo- filled Greek delicacies. We made Spanakopita http://kolpona.com/2012/03/21/spanakopita-greek-spinach-triangles/ and Baklava and talked about hydrogenated fats, cholesterol and even “pink slime”. We also talked about how we can indulge in a decadent dessert like Baklava every once in a while because it’s rich in Mono and poly unsaturated fats, a high source of protein from the nuts and has less fat and calories than the average chocolate cupcake with a mile high frosting tower. While we talked about nutrition, food chemistry and science there was also the exclamations of “This is SOOOOO GOOOOD”, a lot of “mmmmm” and “ahhhhhs”. That’s what learning should be don’t you think? Amid all the scientific information there should also be the connections of culture, history and stories of people and places.
This recipe is from my friend Kathy Paras who is a second generation Greek-American. She’s been making this Baklava recipe for years, passed down to her from her mom and aunts. I love recipes like this because it’s been around orally for more than one generation so you know it’s time-tested. I also love knowing that in the middle of a busy university we talked about science and food while enjoying a dessert that someone’s mom made up in her kitchen in Greece years ago.