Shef's Kitchen

Food and Cooking Stories from an Indian-American girl nicknamed Shef

Mango Memories (plus a Recipe for a Healthier Version of Mango Lassi) May 19, 2011

Filed under: Beverages/Drinks,Cooking Classes,Healthy,Summer — shefskitchen @ 12:45 pm
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KRAMER: Here have some mango.
GEORGE: I don’t want any mango.
KRAMER: Come on, take some. It’s good.
(George tries a piece)
GEORGE: Very good. Juicy. Ripe.
(George looks a little weird)
JERRY: What?
GEORGE: I feel like I got a B12 shot. This is like a taste explosion!

Ahhhhhh, magical mango memories.  That’s not me in the photo, but she’s a copy of me 😉 When my parents and in-laws come to visit their precious grandchildren in the spring months, they come with boxes of mangos from Houston Indian grocers. I mean, I get a box of 9 mangos, almost weekly. Kinda like my very own mango CSA, but unfortunately, not grown here. Oh well, I can live with that, and you locavores out there wouldn’t mind either, if you got even a drop of the juice of even one of these!

Growing up in Houston, our trips to India were usually in our summer months, which is at the end of mango season in India. But as young kids, we could be pulled out of school and visit for short stays during the spring months when mangos took a place on the plate at every meal.  They weren’t garnished. They weren’t accompanied. They weren’t blended or creatively chopped into cubes, half-moons, or slender strips.

The cook of the house, usually the middle-of-the-spectrum mother in the joint family system, would not even peel them. She’d set the slices of mango with the skin on, right on the plate next to the chappatti, shaak (curry), dal, and farsaan portions of the plate.  We ate them one chee-yer (slice) at a time, juices running into our curries, each family member eating on average one mango per meal, and yes, with our meal, Gujarati-style.

And at the end of the meal, young kids fought over the “goat-lu”, wanting to be dressed in stickiness for the rest of the day, and the older kids despised that large oblong furry mango seed, deeming it a mess not worthy for their pretty little faces. The seed was stripped of all remaining mango flesh by the eager little mouths, yellow liquid gold of course dripping down their wrists to their bare brown arms.

Last night in class, I taught a recipe for mango lassi:  a way to beautify, liquefy, and drink a mango. Though our family prefers a mango the way nature brought it to us, I like to use produce in different ways. No doubt many recipes exist for mango lassi, a popular restaurant beverage. This one is healthier, if desired, and easily adaptable by changing the dairy and/or fat portion to whatever your dietary preferences or restrictions may be. Here are some ways to do that:

  • If you have a vegetarian in your family, keep in mind lassis are like protein smoothies in a way; you can use Greek yogurt for added protein or even protein powder. A cup of zero percent Greek yogurt (certain brands) is basically protein and calcium in bowl.  (Did I mention the loads of Vitamin A in a mango? I get excited about hard-to-find high-density nutrients).
  • I think almond milk would be a GREAT substitute for the dairy component.
  • If you need to be dairy and nut free ( I know a few people that are), try rice milk, but eliminate the salt from the recipe and increase the amount of mango and sugar. Rice milk affects the flavor, at least brown rice milk.
  • If sugar is a concern, only use RIPE mangos. And don’t add much or any processed sugar. But….sugar is sugar. See this fascinating article on more about that.
  • If you really want more of a milkshake, substitute some vanilla or real mango ice cream for the yogurt.

Enjoy the luxury of this Indian-American milkshake, but one day, vow to yourself that you will somehow get your hands on a goat-lu.

Mango Lassi

Serves 2

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Dripping with orange-hued nectar, the mangos best suited for lassi are Alphonso or Kent varieties, both of which are difficult to obscure in a regular supermarket. Try an Indian store, but if that’s not an option, use overripe Ataulfo or or Hayden or other regular supermarket mangos at the height of their season.  I’m not opposed to canned mango pulp as well, as long as it’s 100% all natural mango pulp. Mango juices tend to be diluted and/or combined with extra sugar. All Indians know that a real mango needs no extra sugar!


1 cup, or a bit more, chopped mango (if it’s really juicy, just squeeze the whole peeled mango over blender)

½ cup homemade yogurt, or any plain yogurt, OR Greek plain yogurt

1 cup milk

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons sugar, plus more to taste

handful of ice cubes

Topping (optional):

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios, raw and unsalted

2 pinches of saffron

seeds from 2-3 green cardamom pods

1 teaspoon sugar


1)     Throw first 6 ingredients in a blender and blend until frothy and all chunky fruit and ice pieces are pureed.

2)     Taste for sugar, and add if desired.

3)     Pour into pretty glasses. The consistency should be slightly thinner than an American milkshake:  pourable, drinkable, but thick. Set aside.

4)     In a mortar/pestle, a mini-food processor, or with a chef’s knife, crush the ingredients for the toppings to a coarse consistency.

5)     Sprinkle on top of the lassi. Layer some whipped cream in between if you’re so inclined 😉


22 Responses to “Mango Memories (plus a Recipe for a Healthier Version of Mango Lassi)”

  1. Jodi Says:

    Mmmm I love reading the description of mango juice dripping down the kids arms and into everyone’s food. When are your parents bringing the next shipment from Houston?

  2. Vijay Says:

    Yah… brings back memories of eating whole mangoes on the roof top of our family farm in India with mango juice dripping from my elbows.

  3. Valentina Says:

    LOVE mangoes! I’m making this for sure. Adorable picture, too!

    • shefskitchen Says:

      Valentina, we LOVE mangos–who doesn’t, right? (oddly enough, my younger daughter despises them; we tell her she’s not really Indian ;).

  4. The Indian market down the street from me makes the best ones with freshly crushed cardamom. Yum, I’m going to try this with almond milk!

    • shefskitchen Says:

      Almond milk–awesome! So lucky that you have an Indian market near you and they crush the cardamom?!? Great!

  5. God, I miss Seinfeld.

    Would you believe I had never eaten a mango until my mid-20s? We didn’t have them in RI when I was growing up. My first taste of one was in Asheville, NC. I was smitten at first bite and have been ever since. I adore mango lassis. I could drink one every day.

    • shefskitchen Says:

      Really Susan? No mangos? I guess I’m starting to realize that some folks have never had one, much less many of the varieties out there. I just had 4 varieties last week!

  6. Oooh! This looks great! My kids will love it – Bookmarked!

  7. Kim Says:

    OK, I need to get some cardamom… then I’m all over this recipe! Would you recommend using frozen mango?


    • shefskitchen Says:

      Kim, frozen would be OK but I fear that frozen mangos still aren’t picked at their ripest or juiciest. I’ve never tried a bag though so it’s worth a shot. Definitely get some cardamom. Smell before buying if you can!!

  8. Bob Says:

    i love it!

  9. […] ate peas, only green peas, for a whole month. And she’s always liked fruit: see her in this pic slurping a mango pit.  On the rare occasion that my family goes out to eat Indian food, she once, when she was two and […]

  10. Mary Helen Says:

    Thanks for this. I am a dedicated Manog Lassi lover, and I’ve always wondered if there was something special to making them at home. You’ve made it look like a snap! Good news for me.

    • shefskitchen Says:

      Mary, so glad you enjoy mangoes as much as I do. I just picked up some Kent ones at the super supermarket today! They had 4 varieties today. Lassis are super easy and I hope you try this version!

  11. Amit Says:

    Imagine not having had Mango Lassi, while staying in the land of Mangoes! We dont have u here but now that u’re blogging…. i’ll be making my mango lassi soon! Thanks :)!
    PS: U could have dropped the word ‘healthier’ from the title. Anything that comes close to being prepared by you is bound to be healthy with a capital H ! 🙂

    • shefskitchen Says:

      I’m so honored! My first commentator in India!! So glad you are reading our blogs, Amit. And hope they inspire you though you cook/bake plenty! WIsh I still could get you that ice-cream maker 😉 You’re right about healthy. I tried making sheero with significantly less ghee…….not a successful experiment. Really need lots of ghee for that one, don’t we!!

  12. […] written about eating mangos before. I am Indian after all. There’s a reason mangos equate to thinking about the Indian […]

  13. […] written about eating mangos before. I am Indian after all. There’s a reason mangos equate to thinking about the Indian […]

  14. […] ate peas, only green peas, for a whole month. And she’s always liked fruit: see her in this pic slurping a mango pit.  On the rare occasion that my family goes out to eat Indian food, she once, when she was two and […]

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