Wednesday, 12 August 2015

mango & cardamom lassi

When I was little, my dad used to take me to the Brick Lane market every Sunday morning. Our trip usually involved grocery shopping and browsing the various wares set up on the stalls; clothes, ornate bits of costume jewellery that looked grown up and magical to my untrained 5/6/7 year old eye, and crates and crates of fresh fruit and vegetables. I particularly loved looking at the bric a brac and sometimes dad would buy me a jewellery box or a little hand mirror. The best bit was that our mini expeditions always ended up with lunch at an Asian cafe, where dad’s friends would sometimes join us. The cafĂ© was full of animated chatter and so many amazing smells. Lunch included spicy sheesh kebabs, gulab jamuns and always a refreshing glass of lassi, served in a little aluminium pitcher.

For the Bengali family mango season means aam katli. A tradition that a woman’s father, uncles and brothers (usually on the maternal side of the family) observe, where they come over with fresh mangoes and jackfruits. This meant that come late spring/early summer my maternal grandfather and uncles would arrive with a truckload of these traditional fruits and gifts for my mum and us. Over this very short mango season we’d receive boxes of the amazing Indian Alphonso mangoes, saffron coloured in hue, sweet, fragrant and succulent. We’d eat pieces of this luscious fruit with gelatinous Bangladeshi sticky rice that my grandmother would bring over from one of her trips, along with a generous helping of cream. Sometimes mum would make us mango lassi with added fennel and cardamom, which really heightened the intense flavour of the mangoes.

In keeping with the family tradition I also prefer to make my mango lassis with a touch of cardamom. I made this for my sisters and they loved it and we ended up using a spoon to scoop up the last bits of lassi from the glass! Sadly I couldn't get hold of any Alphonso mangoes so I ended up using a Brazilian mango – which is still delicious but not as sweet, which meant that I had to add sugar. I suggest you add a tablespoon of sugar per person as you begin, and adjust according to taste. The lassi should be sweet but not oversweet. Mum uses just plain natural yoghurt and very little milk but seeing as Greek yoghurt is quite thick I use a little more milk to ensure that the lassi doesn't become too thick. 

Ingredients (makes 2 large glasses)
1 very ripe mango, roughly chopped
400g greek yoghurt
150ml milk
4 cardamom seeds crushed
3-4 tbs sugar (adjust according to taste)

Peels and chop the mango to large chunks and add to a blender or smoothie maker. You can also use a hand blender.

Finely crush the seeds of the cardamoms with a pestle and mortar and add to the mango.
Add the yoghurt, milk and sugar and blend until creamy and smooth.

Serve chilled along with samosas or any other spicy snack.

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