What is a Lassi?

Mary McMahon

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.

Mango lassi is popular in India and South Asia.
Mango lassi is popular in India and South Asia.

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.

Lassi is made with yogurt.
Lassi is made with yogurt.

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.

Lassi is a great complement to spicy food, which is why it's offered by many Indian restaurants.
Lassi is a great complement to spicy food, which is why it's offered by many Indian restaurants.

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.

A savory lassi may be seasoned with spices like turmeric.
A savory lassi may be seasoned with spices like turmeric.

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.

Cardamom is often used to season lassi.
Cardamom is often used to season lassi.
When making a lassi, soy milk may be used to make the beverage for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant.
When making a lassi, soy milk may be used to make the beverage for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant.

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Discussion Comments


My husband is not very fond of yogurt, but he enjoys a good lassi drink. One recipe I used called my vanilla yogurt and rose water. This was pretty good, but I really like it best if there is some fruit in there.

For a really creamy and smooth lassi, I will use Greek yogurt. I add some strawberries and a little bit of honey and this is the perfect summer drink.

My husband also likes the lassi drinks that have fruit in them. I have used whatever kind of fresh or frozen fruit I have on hand. This has included everything from bananas, pineapple, and blueberries. You can use just one fruit, or blend many of them together.


The best lassi recipe I ever tasted used coconut milk. This gave it such a unique taste and the texture was very creamy.

This wonderful drink was spiced with a little bit of cardamom which really helped to bring out the delicious flavor. I love to make a lassi for a nice dessert after a big meal.

It leaves you with a perfect sweet taste, but is nice and light. It can also help with the digestion of a big meal and my stomach always feels better after drinking a lassi.


I like drinking lassi best when some fruit is blended in with it. Many people don't like the seeds of raspberries, but for me this is a favorite. I love the sweet raspberry taste blended with the yogurt.

I have some wild raspberry bushes growing along the field at our farm. Every year around the end of June, I anxiously wait for the raspberries to ripen. I make a lot of lassi drinks during this time when the fresh raspberries are in season.

Besides lassi drinks being so healthy for you, they are easy to make and you can easily add your favorite ingredients and spices. You really can't go wrong and can make it as thin or thick as you like it.


Mango lassi is so delicious! I love having it as a snack or dessert. If I'm not feeling like something sweet, then I make a salty lassi minus the fruit. All you need is plain yogurt, water and salt. It is a great drink when you are eating heavy oily foods.

It's also wonderful in the summer, very cooling, full of protein and the salt keeps your blood pressure stable in the heat. Lassi is drank in the Middle East too, usually the plain version. Of course, it is not called "lassi" there but it's really the same thing.

I also agree that lassi is a must when you're a beginner at spicy foods. I'd say don't even think about it and order that lassi or plain yogurt with that spicy curry right away.


You don't have to go to an Indian restaurant to try out a lassi, because you can easily make one at home by yourself. There is a good chance you might even have the basic ingredients in your kitchen right now.

For a simple lassi you just need some plain yogurt, a fruit of your choice, water and a bit of sugar.

The plain yogurt is the bulk of your lassi, and you can use a blender to add whichever fruit you like to it. The water is simply for thinning the lassi if you find the consistency too thick. Finally, the sugar is just to taste. Adding ice to your lassi is also a nice touch, as besides making the drink cool, it can also help the texture of your drink.


Anyone who wants to sample Indian curries should have a lassi by their side. The soothing powers of a lassi shouldn't be overlooked, and drinking one can really be a lifesaver when your mouth is on fire.

I remember when I was going through an experimental stage trying hotter and hotter curries. While the spiciest ones were delicious, I found that the lassi really helped to coat my stomach so that I didn't get any bad acid burn.

Since lassis are available in so many flavors you can easily find something you'll like to help you conquer even the hottest of curries. I recommend trying a lassi made with strawberries. It's delicious.

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