Friday, 15 April 2016

Kefir Mango Lassi

Kefir Mango Lassi
My warm and sunny spot still has no flowers.  This is Canada!

Traditionally a lassi is made with plain yogurt, also known as curd.  But kefir is that much healthier than yogurt.  The pro-biotic qualities are more intense, and they stay in the digestive system longer than those of yogurt.  The taste is somewhat similar, but a bit more like a fresh, very mild cheese.

I’m giving two choices here.  You can buy your kefir, and make this lassi within minutes, or you can make your kefir, which will take overnight. 

Either way, the method is easy.  Whether you go commercial or home-made, you still need to start with a good quality, plain commercial kefir. 

Let’s focus on the mango lassi first!  

This recipe makes 1 large serving or two smaller servings.  You can multiply amounts for more people, up to what your blender can manage.

1 ½ cups plain kefir
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 banana
1 tablespoon jaggery (raw Indian sugar) (optional)
½ capful Kewda water (available in Indian groceries)

Put kefir then frozen mango into blender.  In Canada, frozen mango chunks are relatively inexpensive, saving money and time, though many people prefer to buy an entire crate of mangoes at a certain big box store.  I don’t, because that many mangoes go bad on me before I get a chance to use them, not to mention that mangoes are rather high calories, and eating a crate of mangoes by myself in the time it takes to keep them fresh is a bad idea. 

Fresh mango is sweeter of course, but the banana adds enough sweetness for me.  Another tip is if you have bananas on the cusp of being overly ripe, peel them and put them in a ziplock bag in the freezer.  They come in very handy!  You can skip the banana and use the jaggery, or keep the banana and still add the jaggery, as you please. 
Run, don't walk, to get yourself some of this!

Kewda water is my recent discovery.  It tastes sunny and cheerful in a way that reminds me of a yellow and pink toy carousel.  I can’t imagine why.  It evokes pleasant childhood memories, maybe a time at a fair, eating some long forgotten child’s candy.  Trust me, you can't get through your next summer without it!

Add the kewda water and buzz till the lassi is smooth.  Serve in a pretty glass, preferably in a warm spot.  It will cool you down, establish great pro-biotic activity in your belly, quench your thirst and make you very happy.

Now for the kefir directions.  This recipe is my first in my new category, “growing it!”

(Here we have a September 6/2016 update!  I'm using an easier way to make Kefir now.  You see that little bottle shown down there?  I wait till it's almost empty.  I pour cold milk into it using a funnel.  I cover it loosely with the cap.  I leave it on the counter for about five hours on a warm day, longer on a chilly day.  I'm so lazy I don't even strain the grains.)

If I don’t already have kefir starter, I buy a litre of good quality, plain kefir.  I use most of that in, guess what, mango lassis. When I’m down to the last three tablespoons or so, I leave it on the counter for several hours, to wake up the pro-biotics.  

The warmer the room, the quicker the entire process takes, so in my case, I start this process in the evening so it’s done by morning.

3 tablespoons room temperature plain kefir
1 litre (less 3 tablespoons) milk

First, pour the milk into a very clean, wide pot with the lid on.  Turn the heat to medium high, and watch carefully.  As soon as it starts to simmer, remove from heat and take off the lid.  Set aside till it becomes just warm, not hot.  Try a small spoonful on your wrist.  If it’s too hot, it will murder the kefir people. 
You don't have to clean the bottle for the next batch.

Canada is chilly much of the time, so I make a warm area by turning on my oven while the milk is cooling.  It heats up to about 100 F in a few minutes, then I turn it off.  I turn on the oven light to keep a steady temperature in the oven overnight.

If necessary, use a clean funnel to pour the warmish milk into the kefir.  Give it a shake or stir, and cover and place in a warm spot.  I put mine next to the oven light.  If your area is already quite warm, check your kefir after about 5 hours.  If it’s thick, it’s ready to be refrigerated.

Time to refrigerate when it's this thick.
Occasionally, my area is extra warm, and the kefir overdoes itself.  It separates into whey and a very thick, ricotta like cheese substance.  When this happens I tend to panic, but the smell and taste of the thick part reassures me it’s fine. Just shake it like mad to combine the whey and kefir, best as possible.  

Remember to have lots of fresh milk on hand so that when you’re down to your last three tablespoons of kefir you can start the process all over again.  It is so good that I’m not sure that I’ll be bothering with yogurt ever again!  Fermenting your own kefir will save you much money, and your own is that much healthier!


  1. I had lassi for the first time about 2 weeks ago and loved it. I'm also a kefir fan and drink it every day. Questions-what kind of milk-full fat, 2% etc for the kefir? What is in the Kewda water-specifically sugar content? How long does it last after opening? Expensive?

  2. Hi Susan, good to hear from you! I used 2%, but that's because I loathe skim milk, and 1%. I'd go for full fat if I could get away with it, which I can't. Sigh... Kewda water has no sugar. Like rosewater and vanilla, it imparts a sweet taste without any actual sugar or calories. It has its own flavour, basically impossible to describe, although I did make a valiant attempt. I keep rosewater, orange blossom water and now kewda water refrigerated and it doesn't seem to go bad. My rosewater is in a huge bottle, something that concerns me a little. I'd prefer not to buy it in bulk quantities, because I do worry.

  3. I forgot to mention the cost. I believe it was under three dollars.