Lassi, you probably know, is an Indian drink made from yogurt. It is rarely sold outside Indian restaurants and supermarkets. However, last week at Whole Foods I saw a product called Pavel’s Pro Sea Salt Lassi Yogurt Drink, so new it is not yet on the company website. I have no idea why Pro is part of the name. I bought a bottle. I was surprised how good it was.
I tried making it myself. I found I could easily make better lassi than Pavel’s by optimizing the amount of salt, adding an optimal amount of sweetener (xylitol – Pavel’s lassi was unsweetened), and flavoring it, for instance with vanilla.
Yogurt companies of the world (except maybe Pavel’s) seem to have failed to notice that lassi is a very unusual food. It provides pleasure in eight ways: (1) satisfies thirst, (2) creamy, (3) frothy (if you shake the bottle before drinking), (4) salty, (5) sour, (6) sweet, (7) complexity (yogurt alone is slightly complex, vanilla increases complexity) and (8) flavor novelty (if you vary the flavor). To a small extent, (9) it satisfies hunger and, if you’re hot, (10) cools you off. It’s also (11) very convenient — easier to take a swig of lassi than a spoonful of yogurt — and (12) very healthy. I can’t think of another food with twelve strengths. My friends’ pizza provided pleasure in ten ways but wasn’t convenient or healthy. There are several similar yogurt drinks in other cultures, such as doogh, perhaps because lassi has such a high benefit/cost ratio.
To make lassi, mix 3 parts yogurt with about 1 part water, add sweetener and salt and flavoring to taste, mix. I’m going to try adding cardamon and maybe replace the water with tea, to increase complexity.