When it comes to food and drink I don’t bring out the “Oh, dear baby Jesus” comment unless something really, really, really merits the swearing of the Lord. Well, India’s lassis are worthy.
My Indian friends, when giving recommendations, all made a point of telling me that I couldn’t visit India without enjoying one of these bad boys. So I did – about fifty of them.
To start, what is a lassi? A lassi is a yogurt-based drink common to the Indian subcontinent and parts of the Middle East, traditionally served salty or sweet. Never got around to trying the salty lassi, mostly because of the discovery of a sweeter kind, the mango lassi. Mangos lassis are only served when mangos are in season so when the season began, about a month into our time there, I simply doubled down every day to make up for lost time. Mango lassis are creamy, cold, smooth, sweet, and delicious and the perfect antidote to India’s heat.
I tried many great lassis but none better than the makhani or saffron lassi at Shri Mishrilal in the blue city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Our guidebook had claimed that it might have the best makhani lassi in all of India and we wanted to put it to the test.
This place was indeed an institution. They served one thing and one thing only – saffron lassis. Your only decision was ice or no ice. We chose to forgo the ice as Indian water is the quickest way to trouble. You simply ordered and the waiter brought you over the extra-thick and creamy lassi with a a much-needed spoon and glass of water. Bliss in a glass, people, bliss in a glass.
The of course there is the ever-popular bang lassi. Alcohol is frowned upon by many Indians, but marijuana or hashish in your drink – well, that’s a different thing. You see, the Hindu god Shiva loved a good smoke as the next guy. As a result, the holy men that follow in Shiva’s footsteps often smoke in his honor. That same transitive experience from smoking weed has spread to India’s favorite drink – the lassi.
The result is the soporific bang lassi, essentially a lassi laced with weed. I never actually got around to trying this “special” lassi (as it is referred to when ordering at restaurants) found in many parts of Rajasthan, but I’m told that its effects are indeed very real and quite transformational. I’m very sure Shiva would be delighted that Western tourists are doing their best to follow his ways.