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 😉