Lassi is a traditional chilled beverage from India that is made with yogurt or buttermilk and an assortment of flavorings. Many Indian restaurants offer the drink on their menus, since it is a popular accompaniment to spicy Indian food. It can also be made at home with the assistance of a blender or a set of eggbeaters. Some markets also sell the yogurt beverage in prepackaged containers for convenience, and it is available at many roadside stands in India.
According to historic texts, lassi and its various forms have been prepared for centuries. Special versions with ingredients like honey are used in some Hindu rituals, and ayurvedic practitioners may prescribe lassi to treat specific conditions. One of the most common ingredients in the drink is toasted cumin, which is supposed to help the digestion. Other special ingredients may be used in ayurvedic beverages as well, depending on the patient's condition.
From a purely practical point of view, lassi is an excellent accompaniment for hot food. Yogurt and other dairy products can help temper the heat of chilies for diners who are not accustomed to them, and yogurt will also made it easier to digest spicy foods. Lassi is also simply cooling and refreshing, and it can be consumed on its own as well as being drunk with food.
The texture of lassi varies. Most people make it with varying proportions of yogurt and water, so some drinks are very thick and chunky, while others may be more thin. The drink may be made even colder by being poured over ice, and some cooks like to top it with clotted cream to create an extra-rich flavor. It may also be made with buttermilk for more tartness, or ingredients like coconut or soy milk can be used for vegans or people with lactose intolerance. The spices used can vary widely; they may include cumin, turmeric, ground chili powder, mace, and cardamom.
In addition to being mixed with spices, this drink can also be blended with fruit. Mango lassi is one of the most popular forms, although other fruits can be used as well. Some cooks may also add things like garlic or vegetables for a more savory take on this popular beverage. In some regions, it is possible to find sweet lassi, which can be flavored with ingredients like honey or sugar and rosewater and other delicate, sweet flavors.