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Cherry Lassi for a Thirsty Lassie

Family holidays to Bangalore are usually a whirlwind of meals at relatives homes, action-packed shopping trips, countless rides in auto-rickshaws and multiple visits to tailor shops to try on saree blouses in sweaty, curtained change rooms.

(It’s a hard life, I know)

What (I’m told) used to be a city with a beautifully cool climate, has had its’ central heating cranked up  in the last few decades. Pollution, global warming and a population expansion in the city of my birth is making days out and about less comfortable than they used to be.

Enter the Nandini Dairy Stall.  Nandini is the name under which the Karnataka Milk Federation, a co-op of dairy farmers, makes and sells its products.  Apart from their main outlets, littered around the city are milk stalls which peddle cool, long-necked glass bottles of sweet, flavoured milk.

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Exhausted, dehydrated and slightly hypoglycaemic from tromping around the city, me, my mum and my aunts would clamber gratefully onto the curb upon spotting one of these milk stalls.  They were a refuge in the sea of traffic and pollution.  A sight for sore eyes and parched throats.  You really couldn’t go wrong no matter which flavour you chose- elaichi (cardamom), strawberry, pista or badam (almond).

These long-necks would provide an instant cool down and sugar hit, and we would be ready to hit the next saree or jewellery shop.

Those reusable glass bottles have been phased out due to hygiene issues (damm those health authorities!), but flavoured Nandini milk continues to revitalise shoppers in smaller sealed public health friendly plastic bottles.

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In the absence of Nandini milk, one has to be content with the offerings of Deepa’s Dairy Stall.  Lassi is an Indian smoothie where milk meets fruit and yoghurt and they all get along really, really well.  You may be familiar with Mango Lassi and Salty Lassi, but after scoring half a kilo of these beautiful little fruits, I decided to give Cherry Lassi a go and was rather pleased with the results.

Husband gave it the tick of approval and between us we managed to gulp down more than a litre of the stuff in one scorcher of an afternoon.

In other news, I am just about to launch into a one week detox.  Why, you ask?  Well, a combination of feeling generally gluggy + a brief moment of insanity in which a commitment was made.  Don’t worry, it’s not one of those extreme ones where I will be barely living on organic cucumber juice administered intravenously and nothing else.  It’s just avoiding processed foods, meat and most painfully, caffeine for a week.  Will let you know how it goes at the end, although it is likely I will be reduced to communicating in grunts by then owing to the lack of caffeine and chocolate. Anyway, here goes!

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Cherry Lassi

Get

35-40 fresh cherries, pitted
2 cups milk (I used skim), chilled
3 cups vanilla yoghurt (I used low fat), chilled
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp honey
The inside of 4-5 cardamom pods powdered or 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
Pinch saffron

Make

If using cardamom seeds, powder with 1/2 tsp sugar in a grinder or using a  mortar and pestle.

In a food processor, process cherries, cardamom and sugar until the cherries are roughly pureed.  Add milk, yoghurt, honey and saffron and blend until frothy and well mixed.

Serve in a tall glass.

Notes:

I have not tried to make this with anything other than cows’ milk but my guess would be other types of milk or yoghurt such as soy or rice based ones would work pretty well.  Nut milks should also work, but may give a sweeter result (thanks Alex for this question!).

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Written by Deepa

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