It’s like clockwork — without fail every time I buy some buttermilk, say for a marinade, some waffles, pancakes, or dressing, I find myself buying more than I need. Most people get annoyed with leftover buttermilk because it’s yet another ingredient that sits around unused until its expiration date has come and gone.
But I’m the opposite. You could say I hope for extras, often buying way more buttermilk than I need, all so I can have an excuse to make some lassi. I probably should just keep buttermilk around for whenever the urge arises but there’s something about feeling the duty to use up the leftovers that I’m weirdly drawn to. But enough about my bizarre quirks. If you haven’t had an Indian lassi, think of it like the original smoothie, as it’s a slightly sweetened yogurt or buttermilk drink that’s been around long before Jamba Juice ever opened doors.
Now, India’s a huge place so there are as many twists and turns on lassi as there are cities and I tried a different one nearly everywhere I traveled. Over the course of my few weeks on the subcontinent, I had the classic mango lassi, the distinct salted mint lassi, and even the uber-decadent saffron lassi that I make whenever I’m lucky enough to fall into a large supply of saffron.
But, being as it’s spring, my latest adventure has been in the form of a buttermilk and strawberry lassi. Some swear you must use whole milk yogurt to call it a lassi, but I like the tang and frothiness that comes from blended buttermilk. From there, you can make it as sweet or savory or riff on it as you please. Just don’t skimp on the cardamom and rosewater because those two ingredients take the recipe from ho-hum smoothie to a tall sip of India.
Strawberry, Rose Water, and Cardamom Lassi with Pistachios Recipe
- Makes: 2 to 3 servings (about 3 cups)
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
- 1 cup cold buttermilk
- 2 to 3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon rose water (can substitute orange flower water)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup ice
- Roughly chopped roasted pistachios, for garnish
Taste your strawberries to see how sweet they are — if they’re very sweet you 2 tablespoons honey and if they aren’t that sweet use 3 tablespoons. Combine strawberries, buttermilk, honey, rose water, cardamom, and salt in the carafe of a blender and process until smooth. Add ice and process until broken up and smooth. Taste and add more honey or other flavoring as desired. Pour into glasses and serve topped with pistachios.