Sweet, luxuriously creamy, refreshing, and utterly delicious, this traditional Mango Lassi recipe comes together in 5 minutes and is the perfect accompaniment to your Indian dishes or as a stand-alone drink!
Probably the best mango lassi I’ve had was in an Indian restaurant my husband and I stumbled upon nearly 15 years ago while visiting San Francisco. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but I do remember the experience of sipping that marvelous drink. As soon as we got back home from our trip I worked on replicating that mango lassi recipe and we’ve been enjoying them at home ever since.
What is Mango Lassi?
The term lassi refers to a drink made with yogurt and water as its base. It has a smoothie-like consistency and is commonly made with a variety of ingredients and ingredient combinations, everything from black pepper, cumin, ginger, green chilies, rosewater and almonds to fresh fruits such as strawberries and, in the case of today’s recipe, mangoes. A mango lassi is made by blending ripe mangoes with yogurt, sugar or honey, often cardamom and cinnamon, and sometimes a splash of milk or water. The result is a smooth, creamy, and sweet beverage with the distinct tropical flavor of mango combined with the peppery and floral exoticness of cardamom.
Mango lassi is loved for its creamy texture, fruity sweetness and is probably the most popular type of lassi outside of India, served in most Indian restaurants throughout the world.
Where Did Mango Lassi Originate?
Mango lassi originated in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the region of Punjab, which spans parts of India and Pakistan. It has been a traditional and popular beverage in the region for centuries.
Mangoes are widely grown and cherished in India, and the combination of sweet mangoes with creamy yogurt proved to be a delightful blend, so much so that mango lassi quickly became a favorite beverage in Punjab and gradually gained popularity throughout the country and around the world.
How to Serve Mango Lassi
Mango lassi is typically served chilled and can be enjoyed on its own as a refreshing beverage or paired with various dishes. See the very bottom of this blog post for some suggested dishes. Here are some common ways to serve mango lassi:
- As a stand-alone drink: Pour the chilled mango lassi into tall glasses and serve it as a refreshing beverage. You can garnish it with a sprinkle of ground cardamom, cinnamon, pistachios, or a few strands of saffron for added flavor and presentation. For a splash of color you can also add a sprig of mint. If you like you can also add dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy your mango lassi for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or as late night refreshing drink.
- With spicy dishes: Mango lassi pairs well with spicy Indian dishes as it helps cool down the palate. The creamy and sweet flavors of the lassi provide a pleasant contrast to the heat of the spices.
- As dessert or a dessert accompaniment: Mango lassi can be served as a simple but satisfying dessert or as a refreshing accompaniment to other desserts such as gulab jamun, rasgulla, or kulfi. The fruity sweetness of the lassi complements the rich flavors of these desserts.
- As a smoothie base: Mango lassi can be used as a base for smoothies by adding additional fruits or flavors such as bananas, berries, pineapple, and other fruits.
How to Choose a Ripe Mango
The key to a great mango lassi is choosing good, ripe mangoes. You can use frozen mangoes as well, but if you’re using fresh, here are some tips to help you select a ripe mango. You’ll need to use your senses to assess its color, smell and texture.
- Look for Color: Ripe mangoes come in different varieties, each with its own color. However, a ripe mango should generally have vibrant colors that are characteristic of the particular variety. Look for mangoes that have a rich, even color without any, or at least very minimal, green patches. The color can range from yellow to orange, red, or a combination of these hues depending on the variety.
- Assess the Smell: Smell the mango near the stem end. If the mango is ripe it will smell very sweet and fragrant. Avoid mangoes that have little or no fragrance (not ripe) or have a sour or fermented smell (over-ripe or spoiled).
- Check the Texture: Lay the mango in the palm of one hand and gently pretty is with your fingers. A ripe mango will yield slightly to pressure and will have a slight give when gently pressed while still retaining their shape. An underripe mango with be hard and your fingers will not be able to make an indentation without pressing very hard. An overripe mango will be soft and squishy.
- Consider the Feel: Run your fingers across the skin of the mango. A ripe mango will feel smooth and have a slight tackiness to its skin. However, avoid mangoes that have wrinkled or shriveled skin, as it could be a sign of overripeness.
If you have some mangoes on hand that aren’t ripe you can speed up the ripening process by placing them in a paper bag at room temperature. Once they’re ripe, if you’re still not quite ready to use them you can transfer them to the fridge which will then slow down the ripening process.
© Celso Diniz | Dreamstime
How to Cut a Mango
Cutting a mango can be done in a few simple steps. Here is a basic method to cut a mango:
- Wash the mango and place it on a cutting board. Hold the mango upright with the stem end facing up. Use a sharp knife to slice off one side of the mango, starting from the top and cutting down along the flat seed in the center. Repeat this on the other side of the mango to remove the second half.
- Take one mango half and score the flesh in a crisscross pattern, being careful not to cut through the skin. Make the cuts close together, but not too deep.
- Hold the scored mango half in both hands, with the skin-side facing outward. Gently push the skin-side upwards to turn the flesh inside out, revealing the cubes of mango. Use a knife or spoon to separate the cubes from the skin.
- Repeat this process with the other mango half.
You now have mango cubes that you can eat as is, add to salads, smoothies, etc, or in this case, use them to make a delicious mango lassi!
© Arx0nt | Dreamstime
Should I Use Fresh, Frozen or Canned Mango?
You can use any of those but for the best flavor we recommend fresh or frozen as the flavor of canned mango greatly pales in comparison.
Mango Lassi Recipe
Once your mango is peeled and diced the rest of the process takes just a minute or two. If you’d like to save time you can peel and dice the mango in advance and store it in the fridge, freeze it until ready to use, or use store-bought frozen mango.
You can use either honey or sugar as your sweetener as well as any alternative sweetener of your choice. For the yogurt I recommend full-fat for the best texture and flavor. You can use whole cardamom pods, remove the seeds, and grind them yourself in a spice/coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, or use pre-ground cardamom. How much cardamom you use comes down to personal preference. It has a very strong flavor so it’s always best to start with less, taste, and add more as needed.
© Przemyslaw Ceglarek | Dreamstime
Let’s get started!
To prepare a mango lassi:
- Choose ripe and juicy mangoes (see above, “How to Choose a Ripe Mango”). Peel the mangoes and remove the flesh from the pit (see above, “How to Cut a Mango”).
- In a blender, add the mango flesh, yogurt, sugar or honey, ground cardamom and milk.
- Blend the ingredients until smooth and well combined. Taste and add more sweetener and/or cardamom if desired. If you prefer it thinner, add a little more milk. For a creamier texture, add some more yogurt. If you want a thicker, more milkshake-like consistency or do not want to wait to chill the mango lassi before serving, you can blend in some ice. Chill the mango lassi in the fridge until nice and cold. It will keep for up to 24 hours (give it a stir if the contents have separated).
- To serve, pour the mango lassi into serving glasses. You can garnish it with any of the following: a sprinkle of ground cardamom, cinnamon, a few strands of saffron, a dollop of whipped cream, and a sprig of fresh mint.
Enjoy this Mango Lassi as part of your Indian meal with one of these favorite Indian dishes:
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Butter Chicken
- Shrimp Curry
- Egg Curry
- Masoor Dal
- Chicken Biryani
- Tandoori Chicken
- Balti Chicken
- Eggplant Curry
- Chicken Xacuti
- Saag Gosht
- 2 1/2 cups diced ripe fresh or frozen mango (about 2-3 medium sized mangoes), see blog post on "How to Choose a Ripe Mango" and "How to Cut a Mango"
- 2 cups plain yogurt (I recommend full-fat but you can use light or non-fat it preferred)
- 4-6 tablespoons granulated sugar or 2-3 tablespoons honey , or according to taste (start with less, taste, and add more as desired)
- or alternative sweetener
- 1/2 cup milk
- pinch of ground cardamom (start with less, taste, and add more as desired)
- ice cubes , optional if you want a thicker consistency (you can also freeze the mango in advance)
- In a blender, add the mango, yogurt, sugar or honey, ground cardamom and milk. Blend the ingredients until smooth and well combined. Taste and add more sweetener and/or cardamom if desired. If you prefer it thinner, add a little more milk. For a creamier texture, add some more yogurt. (If you want a thicker, more milkshake-like consistency or do not want to wait to chill the mango lassi before serving, blend in some ice.) Chill the mango lassi in the fridge until nice and cold. Will keep for up to 24 hours (give it a stir if contents have separated).
- To serve, pour the mango lassi into serving glasses. You can garnish it with any of the following: a sprinkle of ground cardamom, cinnamon, a few strands of saffron, a dollop of whipped cream, and/or a sprig of fresh mint.