I don't remember the first time I tried a lassi, but every first sip I am instantly transported to another place and time. I'm a sucker for the delicate yet complex floral and exotic flavor the saffron and rose provide diffused into the tartness and creaminess of the buttermilk. Smooth and silky, without being heavy, the original lassi has a texture that is much thinner than the average smoothie.
In fact the history of the lassi, the ancient smoothie and original probiotic beverage, was created to support and cool the body from the hot Indian summer months. The yogurt, herbs and cooling tonic nature of the drink have benefit for digestion, mood, skin and body heat regulation. I could drink this tonic every summer morning! Needless to say, recreating this recipe to be free of dairy and refined sugars has been on my list for a very. long. time. And, I must say I'm a bit surprised by just how authentic tasting the results are.
We've embraced probiotics as beneficial to our digestion, and now well-studied for their mood-boosting benefits as well. This yogurt digestive aid has the potential to coat and soothe the stomach from harder to digest or spicy foods. Cooling in nature, the beverage could provide temperature regulation internally and cool the body from the hot and humid climate.
I chose coconut over another dairy-free alternative for its inherent cooling and hydrating nature as well. I actually advise women not to drink coconut when they are on their cycle so as not to dampen or cool that natural warmth the body needs in order to flow with ease. In summer however, we can utilize the thermodynamics of produce and herbs to help regulate our body temperature and keep us cool. Ingredients such as rose, cucumber or melon are all good examples of this.
I love a good lassi, but being the purist I am, I haven't allowed myself the indulgence when ordering from a restaurant. Weighed down by excess fruit, syrups and refined sugar, I found this drink to be bastardized and overly Americanized. While there are many different flavor interpretations from sweet to savory, I've always been drawn to the more delicate floral notes of the simple plain or salted versions. Being sensitive to both sugars and dairy, it was important to create a blend that used minimal to no refined sugars whatsoever and allow the ingredients of the lassi to really shine both in flavor and benefit.
Hydrating, refreshing, cooling, skin-supporting, and digestion-boosting, I hope you enjoy this ancient iced tonic.
rose and saffron coconut lassi
makes 2 servings
8 oz coconut water kefir (you can substitute coconut water but the flavor will be much sweeter and less tart)
3 Tablespoons raw coconut yogurt
1/2 teaspoon rose water
a few strands of saffron and additional for garnish
honey to taste (optional)
pinch Himalayan or sea salt
Add kefir and yogurt to a blender with rose water, saffron, salt and honey, if desired. Blend until smooth. The consistency should be that of a very thin smoothie or thick tonic. Taste and add additional flavoring if desired.
If not cool enough, add a couple iced cubes to a shaker and strain before serving. Or store a tall glass in the freezer overnight and chill before serving.
To froth, pulse again in the blender, or pour between glasses to add air and foam.
Serve cold and enjoy!