Deliciously Sri Lankan Saffron Mango Lassi


Lassi, pronounced Loss-see rather than in the Scottish way it might look like, is another Sri Lankan-Indian confection that is growing in popularity around the world. Whether this is a part of the yogurt and pro-biotic boom that has seen drinks like Kefir explode in popularity, or merely for its own refreshing and adaptable qualities is uncertain. But whatever the reason, it’s a wonder to have access to this regional delight.

Lassi has many different versions, and is actually typically served with more savory spices such as toasted cumin and salt. However, it’s the fruit versions that have become most popular. In South India and Sri Lanka, mangoes are most common. In Bangladesh there’s a version with fresh mint. For the more adventurous there’s even the Bhang Lassi, a traditional drink for religious celebrations featuring a cannabis product said to elicit a trance. Really a Lassi can be made with most any fruit that will blend well, but this article will focus on how to prepare the mango version. It’s incredibly simple to make, but you can jazz it up with the optional additions of cardamom or saffron to make it extra special. If saffron isn’t available, the drink is fine without it.

Ingredients To Make a Sri Lankan Saffron Mango Lassi

Serves 1

  • 1 ripe mango, it should be slightly soft
  • ½ cup whole yogurt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Pinch of cardamom

Step by Step: How to Make a Saffron Mango Lassi

Place a piece or two of saffron in a tablespoon of hot water and allow to steep for at least 5 minutes to release the color and flavor of the spice. Peel the skin off the mango with a knife. A mango’s seed is ovular and flat, so stand the mango up and cut down one side to make one large ovular cut, and then down the other side, edging outwards if you hit the seed. Then go down the two thinner sides, but you likely won’t get as much fruit off of those areas. Chop up the two larger pieces and place all the mango in a blender, discarding the seed. Puree.

Add the sugar, water, saffron mixture, and yogurt and give it another good swirl. Your lassi should take on the consistency of pancake batter. Now, pour it into a good tall glass. You can garnish with the cardamom and one or two additional pieces of saffron. This drink is a beautiful golden color and would really be set off by a dollop of whipped cream or a garnish of green fruit such as honeydew melon. Chopped pistachios are also a pleasant and traditional topping.