HMMMMM. Mango Lassi, so tasty and so good for you (gluten-free, low fat and everything!). Growing up when the summers were super hot and the Mangoes were ripe, it was a perfect combination for enjoying this refreshing drink. The local yogurt was tart and the Mangoes sweet and my mom would add some spices to make the mixture just right. We never got a big glass to drink. It was always too small and we drank it slowly to make it last, tilting the glass all the way up and getting a Mango Lassi Moustache in the process. I still love how it makes me feel just to take a long sip. And I still try to make my glass of Mango Lassi last, kind of like the last day of summer!
The cast of characters: Yogurt (I like Greek), Mangoes, Cardamom, Cloves and Cinnamon sticks, sugar
Make a spiced simple syrup by boiling water, sugar and the spices
Strain the spices and pour syrup into a little mason jar - this stuff is so wonderful, great for ice teas, regular teas....
To cut up the Mangoes: flip the skin down to pop the mango cubes "up"
Cut the cubes from the skin
Blend Ice, Mangoes, Yogurt and spicy simple syrup together
Sip slowly and make it last
Here’s the recipe:
Spiced Mango Lassi
2 ripe Mangoes, cubed
1 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I like Greek yogurt, but it will make it more tart)
5-6 ice cubes
2-3 tablespoons of the Simple Syrup with spices (you can add more or less, it’s up to you)
Simple Syrup with spices
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 sticks of Cinnamon
5 whole cloves
5-6 Green Cardamom pods, crushed (use skins and seeds for the syrup)
To make the syrup:
Place water, sugar and spices in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil a minute or so until all the sugar is dissolved and the spices release their aromas. Strain the syrup and pour into a glass mason jar to store. This syrup is fantastic. I not only use it for this recipe but for making Peach ice tea, Ginger Peach Ice tea, or just adding a little to my regular hot tea. It’s a wonderful addition to keep in the fridge. If you’d prefer not to use any processed sugar, you can make simple syrup with honey, just add a little lemon juice to the mixture to keep it from crystallizing.
To make the Lassi:
In a blender put the ice in first, then add yogurt, Mangoes and the simple syrup. Blend for a few minutes until smooth and serve immediately!
Chai is the Bengali, Urdu, Hindi (and a lot of other Indian languages) word for TEA. In Arabic or Farsi it’s pronounced “Shai”. The word literally and simply means tea. In most South Asian countries when we add spices to our tea, we call it “Masala Chai” which means Tea with Spices. In recent years, the western world has discovered this Tea with Spices and have marketed it with fervor in various formats calling it Chai Tea (which is like saying “Tea Tea”). Growing up in Bangladesh, Chai is a quintessential part of everyday life. It’s the most basic form of hospitality. It is always offered, everywhere. You can walk into a bank to open an account and five minutes into the transaction Chai will be offered and poured. You usually have to specify if you want Masala Chai or regular Chai. Regular Chai is always prepared with milk and sugar while Masala Chai has a variety of spices which makes it delicious and fragrant. This sharing of Chai is so cultural that no business is conducted without it nor any meaningful conversation. The making, pouring and drinking of tea by nature slows things down. You know that you cannot go anywhere without allowing some time for tea drinking. I miss that living in the West. We rush around so much everyday that often we miss making connections with each other in meaningful ways.
I’m sharing with you my version of Masala Chai. Pull up a chair, relax and take a drink. I’ll have my cup out too!
Ingredients at a glance
Add crushed Cardamoms with the pods to the milk and water mixture
Bring milk, water and spice mixture to a low simmer
Add tea bags and then sugar to taste
Use strainer when pouring to strain out the spices
Making quilts and drinking Masala Chai with friends
Here’s the recipe:
2 cups 1% or skim milk
3 1/2 cups of water
2 Cinnamon sticks
5 green Cardamom pods, crushed
4-5 whole cloves
1/4 cup sugar
4 tea bags
In a sauce pan heat milk and water together. Add the spices (including the Cardamom pod skin and seeds) and bring to a low simmer. Add in the tea bags until the color becomes a light, nutty brown. Slowly add in the sugar (if you prefer more sugar add more or if you want to leave out the sugar you can as well). Stir until sugar is dissolved. Using a strainer over each cup, pour tea and serve. For a refreshing summertime drink you can serve this chilled or over ice.
Who makes Baklava on a beautiful, Spring, Thursday afternoon? I guess I do. In today’s Cultural Aspects of Food class at the University of Utah we enjoyed a bounty of Fillo- filled Greek delicacies. We made Spanakopita http://kolpona.com/2012/03/21/spanakopita-greek-spinach-triangles/ and Baklava and talked about hydrogenated fats, cholesterol and even “pink slime”. We also talked about how we can indulge in a decadent dessert like Baklava every once in a while because it’s rich in Mono and poly unsaturated fats, a high source of protein from the nuts and has less fat and calories than the average chocolate cupcake with a mile high frosting tower. While we talked about nutrition, food chemistry and science there was also the exclamations of “This is SOOOOO GOOOOD”, a lot of “mmmmm” and “ahhhhhs”. That’s what learning should be don’t you think? Amid all the scientific information there should also be the connections of culture, history and stories of people and places.
This recipe is from my friend Kathy Paras who is a second generation Greek-American. She’s been making this Baklava recipe for years, passed down to her from her mom and aunts. I love recipes like this because it’s been around orally for more than one generation so you know it’s time-tested. I also love knowing that in the middle of a busy university we talked about science and food while enjoying a dessert that someone’s mom made up in her kitchen in Greece years ago.
I use Almonds, Walnuts and some Pistachios for garnish
Coarsely chop the nuts in a food processor
Add freshly grated nutmeg, orange zest and other spices to nut mixture
Brush the bottom and sides of a 17x2x2 pan
Layer Fillo dough one at a time and brush each one with melted butter
Layer nut mixture in thirds, with 4-5 layers of Fillo in between
Cut Baklava into diamond shapes
Place a clove bud in the center of each diamond shape
Pour cooled syrup over hot Baklava
Here’s the recipe:
1 pound box of Fillo Dough
1 pound of Walnuts
1 pound of Almonds
3/4 pound (3 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cloves
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup granulated sugar
ground Pistachios for garnish (optional)
Take out Fillo dough and place it on a cookie sheet and cover with a damp towel, this is very important so the dough does not dry out. In a food processor coarsely chop the nuts. Place the ground nuts in a large mixing bowl and add all the spices (except whole cloves), vanilla extract, sugar and orange zest. Mix well. Melt butter in a glass bowl and brush 17 x 2 x 2 (or an approximate sized) dish with melted butter. Make sure to brush the sides as well. Place a sheet of Fillo on the bottom of the pan and brush it with butter then layer another piece and repeat with 10 layers of Fillo. Layer one-third of the nut mixture on the Fillo then layer with 3-4 pieces of dough, buttering each layer. Layer the next third of the nut mixture and repeat with another 3-4 pieces of Fillo. On the very last layer add about 7-9 sheets of Fillo dough (butter each one well). Brush top of the last Fillo dough with butter and cut into diamond shapes. Place a clove bud into the center of each piece. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 hour, until golden brown. While the Baklava is baking prepare syrup so it has time to cool by the time the Baklava comes out of the oven.
2 3/4 cup water
2 cups Sugar
Boil slowly for 15 – 25 minutes then add 1 tablespoon of Lemon Juice (this helps it NOT to form crystals) and 2 tablespoons of honey and let simmer an additional 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely.
Pour over hot Baklava and cover for 30 minutes with wax paper. Uncover and let the Baklava set for 7 hours at room temperature before serving. This ensures that all the syrup has soaked in without making the pastry soggy. Serve at room temperature. Try not to refrigerate this dish because it affects the texture and taste. Makes about 36 diamond-shaped Baklavas.