Cool Off and Stay Healthy with a Refreshing Mango Lassi

Mango lassi brings all the refreshing coolness of a summer treat, with none of the guilt.By Ammini Ramachandran

Sweet to spicy, there is a mango recipe to please every palate.

Today, mango is popular around the world and featured in the cuisines of many countries. While mangoes are most often consumed ripe in the United States, many Asian countries have appetizers, salads, pickles and main courses that call for ripe or unripe mangoes. Green mango lends that perfect astringent note to mutton, fish and chicken recipes.

Related: How about a treasured family mango recipe?

Mangoes are native to India, Burma and the Andaman Islands. During the fourth and fifth centuries B.C., Buddhist monks took mango on their voyages to East Asia. The Persians took mango to East Africa about the 10th century. The Portuguese, who arrived in India in the 15th century, took it to South America, the Philippines and West Africa. The Mughals, and later the Portuguese, selected, grafted and cultivated generations of mango plants.

Related: Recipes to survive monsoon season in India.

From Brazil, mango was carried to the West Indies and the Dominican Republic; and from the Philippines and the West Indies, mango reached Mexico by the 19th century. An imported grafted variety from India was introduced into Southern California and Florida in the 1860s.

Mangoes are now cultivated commercially throughout tropics and subtropical areas. Centuries of development have produced varieties of larger succulently sweet fleshy mangoes that we are familiar with today.

Recipe: What's an easy way to benefit from pomegranate's antioxidant properties?

What better way to quench the thirst on a hot summer day than a cool glass of mango lassi, the favorite Indian smoothie. This delicious smoothie is made with a combination of mangoes and yogurt. I add a hint of cardamom, lemon juice and lime zest to liven it up. Use ripe mangoes that do not have fibers.

MANGO LASSI

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 cups diced fresh ripe mango

4 cups plain yogurt

Juice from ½ of a lemon

⅓ cup sugar or honey (adjust for taste)

½ teaspoon cardamom powder

A pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of lime zest for garnish

25 ice cubes

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients except lime zest in a blender and process until frothy and ice is crushed into small pieces.

2. Serve garnished with lime zest.

Ammini Ramachandran is a Texas-based author, freelance writer and culinary educator who specializes in the culture, traditions and cuisine of her home state Kerala, India. She is the author of "Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts: Recipes and Remembrances of a Vegetarian Legacy" (iUniverse 2007), and her website is www.peppertrail.com.

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