After spending even just a few hours in sweltering heat, nothing makes me feel better than downing a cold drink. While there’s nothing really wrong with an iced latte to attempt to lower that internal body temperature, I tend to opt for a thick, cooling yogurt lassi. The drink, typically served in areas on the Indian subcontinent, is cold and creamy—like a milkshake that doesn’t send you into a sugar coma twenty minutes later. Unlike most smoothies served these days, a lassi isn't packed with superfoods or green protein powder. Simple and satisfying, it's really all I need on a hot afternoon.
While many types of lassis are seasoned with savory spices like cumin or turmeric, or salted and served with mint, I tend to go for a sweet version made with fresh fruit and a few gobs honey or a spoonful of granulated sugar. The most common fruit found in a lassi is mango, though most fruits you’d throw into a smoothie will work as well. Alternatively, sweet lassi can be made without fruit: simply blended yogurt, sugar, and ice perfumed with pinch of saffron or dash of rosewater. Traditional mango lassis are made with real yogurt, but this dairy-free riff opts for rich coconut yogurt instead.
For dairy-free folks, coconut yogurt is a lifesaver—all those great gut-improving probiotics with the delightful creaminess of a classic bite of yogurt, yet no stomach-plaguing lactose to be found. Even if, like me, you have no trouble digesting dairy, opting for coconut yogurt instead of the real deal is sometimes just a great change of pace.
Some brands of coconut yogurt are super thick, while others are much more similar to standard runny plain yogurt. If your brand is on the thin side, use 1 ½ cups unsweetened plain coconut yogurt. If the yogurt is thicker, use ½ cup yogurt and ½ cup unsweetened nondairy milk of your choice.
Pour the yogurt (and milk, if using) into a blender. Toss in ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 ½ cups chopped fresh mango, ½ cup chopped frozen mango, and 1 teaspoon honey. Vegans who were excited about this drink because they don’t eat yogurt also may not eat honey, so go with your preferred liquid sweetener, like maple syrup, agave, plain ol’ sugar, etc.
Blend the mixture until it’s smooth, then blend in a few handfuls of ice. When the lassi seems thick like a smoothie or milkshake, it’s good to go.
Divide the lassi among 2-3 tall glasses and top with chopped pistachios and a mint leaf.