An Indian Summer: An Homage to the Classic Indian Lassi

An Indian Summer: An Homage to the Classic Indian Lassi

Iris is proud to feature this authentic Indian recipe from our lovely friend Asha Esterline, a Hospitality Professor who combined her expertise in bartending and Indian cuisine for us to present to you! 

Host your own Indian Summer cocktail party in style with Iris' Valliyan collection from Mumbai. Drink up, and enjoy!

An Indian Summer: An Homage to the Classic Indian Lassi, by Asha Esterline

Walk into any Indian home on a hot summer day, and Aunty will be sure to offer you a cool glass of lassi (pronounced ‘lessi’ – often heard mispronounced like everyone’s favorite heroine Rough Collie, Lassie.)

Lassi is the quintessential Indian summer drink full of flavors and nutrients. Originally a savory drink touted for its gut healing abilities, this yogurt-based refreshment has now become a sweet treat for young and old to enjoy. As a sweet tart treat, the most common flavor is mango and can be found at most Indian restaurants, but with a few easy to find items can easily be perfected at home. Lassi will always have a nice creamy yogurt as a base, and unlike its Western cousin shake, lassi will be a little less thick and can be served over ice if need be and really doesn’t need any additional cream, ice cream, or milk-based products to make it so.

For a western girl like myself, who isn’t a fan of the American mango selection (sorry, not sorry grocery stores - do better!) the lassi concept has become the base for many delicious summer cocktail recipes over the years. It will always be a staple in my home, especially during the warm months. The taste will always be nostalgic to me – trips to India as a little girl, my sweet Amachi’s dirt kitchen floors, and busy, noisy street markets.

I have shared one of my favorite recipes below. Remember, you can use a variety of fruits, spices, nuts and liquors; you have lotsa lassi options! One can make it as sinful or as healthy (sans alcohol) as one chooses. The yogurt base must remain the same for that nice tart refreshing lassi taste. This particular version is a blender or immersion blender heavy drink (some versions, depending on ingredients, only need your bar shaker) so dust that bad boy off and get to makin’ and blendin’.


Serves:3 Time:20mins


2 Oranges (zest and juice will be used)

6 (1/2 inch thick) fresh pineapple rings
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons sugar
4 ounces coconut milk

4 ounces coconut rum
7 ounces plain yogurt

1 teaspoon ground cardamom (or two whole pods)
½ teaspoon cinnamon



Heat a skillet over medium heat and add your butter. Once butter melts, add in brown sugar and salt, stir till syrup consistency. (If you are using whole cardamom, add now and remove pods after pineapple is cooked.) Add pineapple rings and cook until golden brown and caramelization starts. Do this on both sides. 5-7 minutes each side, flip as needed. Remove and let cool.

While pineapple cools, zest orange and set zest aside for garnish, then juice both oranges. Combine orange juice, caramelized pineapples and juices from pan, yogurt, coconut milk, rum, sugar, cardamom powder (remember to remove pods, if used earlier) in a blender (or use your emersion blender) and puree until smooth. Pour into glasses (with or without ice) and sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and the orange zest on top.  You may add cut oranges and/or pineapple slices to the glass as well. Enjoy!


Side Notes:

  • Orange juice from a bottle may be used – substitute 4 to 6 oz as needed
  • Coconut flavored rum has a lighter taste profile than spiced rum, and I suggest a coconut rum for those that do not want to taste that alcohol “bite.” Bacardi or Malibu brands are perfect.
  • Feel free to use whole or nonfat yogurt. Preferably Greek for its tartness but traditionally most Indian homes have their own home-made yogurt, and although it is similar in taste it has a smoother and buttery flavor.
  • Lassi in India is not served on ice. For such a hot country, most people are not a fan of ice. I like mine extremely cold and ALWAYS add ice.
  • This lassi will sit in the fridge, covered for 2-3 days. Do not leave out, it is dairy and it will curdle.


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