Lassi: From Indra Chowk to The Chowk
While fizzy drinks, ice-creams, and iced coffee drinks are great for refreshment, they are not so great for your health. For people looking for a healthier option without compromising on delectability, there is a yogurt-based drink in town. It’s refreshing, healthy, easy to make, and can be customized in any way you like using different combinations of your favorite flavors. Yes, we are talking about Lassi. Lassi is a delicious blend of yogurt, water, spices, and sometimes fruit that is very popular in Nepal. Although the drink is similar to a smoothie, its thick, velvety texture, obtained by the perfect balance of its ingredients with yogurt, is what makes it so unique. It can often feel like a meal in itself as its heavy consistency almost leaves it to be spooned than to be drunk.
Lassi is believed to have originated in Punjab and Multan in India, around 1000 BC. Back then there were no refrigerators, so Punjabi farmers used to chill milk in clay pots, mix it with curd and sugar and stir with a wooden stick. That simple drink has now evolved into a plethora of drinks, each with its exquisite twist, elevating the sumptuousness of the beverage even further.
Essentially, there are three types of lassi: Sweet lassi, Salted lassi, and Bhaang lassi. Sweet lassi, as the name suggests, is sweet due to sugar, syrup, or sometimes honey added in it. The ingredients are the same as the traditional lassi, but it can also be flavored with a variety of spices, herbs, and fruits, the most popular of which is mango lassi. Apart from mango lassi, rose lassi, banana lassi, pineapple lassi, and mint lassi are also popular variants. As popular as these variants of lassi are, the lassi of choice in Nepal is the classic, yogurt-based lassi found in Indra Chowk, Kathmandu. People swarm to the shops in Asan and Indra Chowk for “Indra Chowk ko Lassi” and the vendors are always busy, whether it’s summer or winter.
Another famous form of lassi is the salty lassi, also known as namkeen lassi, which is more common in the Indian subcontinent. It’s made by blending yogurt with water and salt and can be flavored using different spices and fruits. Usually made with yogurt, nuts, cardamom, rose water, and bhang (a liquid derivative of cannabis), Bhang lassi is enjoyed more as a blessing from the Gods than as a delicacy. Bhang lassi is mostly sold during Holi and Maha Shivaratri. However, if you want to try it during other times of the year then you have to visit Uttar Pradesh in India, where there are many localities with licensed bhang shops.
Lassi is not only an indulgence for your taste buds but also a treat for your health. It is packed with Vitamin D and lactic acid, which does wonders for your immune system. Also, it is high in gut-healthy probiotics due to its yogurt base, which is great for your digestive system. Moreover, lassi is rich in calcium, making it beneficial to bone health.
Aside from a much-needed burst of refreshment during hot summer days, Lassi is a fantastic companion for Nepali cuisine, which is often rich and spicy. We serve lassi in the true Nepali way, with nuts and khuwa floating on top of the velvety, luscious lassi. So, pay a visit to The Chowk and give this creamy and refreshing delight a go.