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Two Delicious Yogurt Based Drinks: Buttermilk & Lassi

Both have numerous health benefits. They’re simple to make — just mix water and yogurt, then customize with herbs, spices or even chocolate!

Both have numerous health benefits. They’re simple to make — just mix water and yogurt, then customize with herbs, spices or even chocolate!

Properties & benefits

LassiButtermilk
Yogurt50%-90%1%-5%
Water50%-10%95%-99%
Propertiesnourishing food; provides nutrition and probioticscleanser; digestive lubricant; stimulates/activates bacteria
Texturecreamy, curdywatery (almost like yogurt infused water)
Compared to a coconutcoconut milkcoconut water
Quencheshunger thirst
Fattening?can beno
Time to digestlong very quick (similar to a cleansing water)
Season to consumeespecially summerdigestive – year round
Time of day to consumenever after darkanytime

Lassis

You dilute yogurt with water, but not near as much as you would buttermilk. Lassis can be either sweet or savory — simple or elaborate. A simple sweet lassi could be yogurt, water, salt and unrefined sugar. A simple savory lassi could be yogurt, water, salt and mint. Lassis make an easy light meal, or a between meal snack.

Mango (or any fruit) lassis are banned in Ayurveda. Mango lassis are very popular today, but according to Ayurveda, fresh fruit and dairy are an incompatible food combination. Spices, on the other hand, are good and regularly used in therapeutic form in Ayurveda. 

Buttermilk

Also know as chhas (chaas/chhaachh) or India buttermilk. The Sanskrit word is tarka. It’s a savory drink which is much more diluted with water than a lassi.

Ancient Sanskrit texts talk about proper diet and the most powerful foods. Buttermilk is advised very strongly in the texts and given an almost human nectar status.

Buttermilk is a digestive or cleaning drink. If you drink a little bit (1/4 – 1/2 cup) with your meal, it’s a digestive. Some people drink buttermilk just with their main meal. Others drink buttermilk after every meal. Some of my friends from India, especially if they are older, say buttermilk really does make a difference with gas and bloating, and they drink it frequently.

If you drink a glass on a hot summer afternoon between meals, it acts as a light cleansing drink, similar to coconut water.

To save time, make a batch of buttermilk in the morning and drink it throughout the day.

In Gujarat, India, Chaas is made with churned yogurt and stored in earthen pot for few hours until it is ready to drink in the afternoon.

Dr. Kalpna Ranadive

It is not necessary to put the buttermilk in the refrigerator. It is usually fine on the counter top for a few hours. Depending on your current body type, it may be much more beneficial to have buttermilk at room temperature instead of cold from the refrigerator.

True buttermilk is obtained in the process of making butter from milk. It is the liquid that separates out when the butter is formed. This can be a lot of work, so most people today mix a small amount of homemade yogurt with a large amount of water. This approximates the true buttermilk very well, and has many of the medicinal properties of true buttermilk. Mixing store yogurt with water will work, but it will not be near as beneficial as homemade yogurt.

Don’t get confused with the American buttermilk you see on the grocery shelves. This is a healthy fermented dairy product, but does not come close to approximating true buttermilk.

Recipe

Two Delicious Yogurt-Based Drinks: Buttermilk & Lassi
Throughout history yogurt beverages have been enjoyed. They are consumed as a refreshing beverage between meals, or sometimes at the end of the meal. There are so many options, from simply adding salt to including sweeteners and/or various spice and herb combinations. Even a chocolate recipe. You can easily customize the drink to your liking.
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: South Indian
Keyword: Chocolate lassi, Salt lassi, Savory lassi, Sweet lassi, Tarka, Traditional lassi, Yogurt, Yogurt drink
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 73kcal
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup water adjust per your liking (the greater the ratio of water, the lighter the drink)
  • 1/2 cup fresh homemade yogurt
  • 1 pinch rock salt e.g. Himalayan, Indian black salt

For a savory lassi (aka salt lassi, traditional lassi)

  • 1 pinch black pepper freshly ground
  • 1 pinch fresh ginger grated
  • 1 pinch cumin freshly ground or dry roasted & ground
  • 1 pinch coriander freshly ground or dry roasted & ground
  • 1/4 tsp freshly chopped cilantro (corriander) leaves for garnish, (ground corriander will also work)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly chopped mint leaves for garnish, (dryed will also work)

For a sweet lassi

  • 1 tbsp sweetner jaggery, brown sugar, maple syrup – no honey
  • 1/4 tsp caradamon power optional
  • 2 drops vanilla flavoring optional, vanilla extract will work, but contains alcohol and there is no cooking to dissapate the alcohol
  • 3 drops rose water optional
  • 1/4 tsp freshly chopped mint leaves for garnish, optional (dryed will also work)

For chocolate lassi

  • 1 tsp cocoa ex: Frontier cocoa powder (non-alkalized)
  • 1 tbsp sweetner optional, jaggery, brown sugar, maple syrup – no honey

For buttermilk/tarka (a digestive, comsumed at the end of a meal)

  • 1 pinch cumin freshly ground or dry roasted & ground
  • 1 pinch coriander freshly ground or dry roasted & ground
Instructions
  • Mix "additions" into yogurt.
    Your mixing method depends on your ingredients. The simple savory lassi works great stirring with a spoon. Other variations can be harder to mix (e.g. you might want a whisk for the chocolate lassi). In general, the best texture is obtained when whisking, not blending. Use handheld whisk, milk frother, electric mixing rod or fork.
  • Add desired amount of water and stir
  • Garnish with fresh leaves as desired & enjoy

Recipe notes

Simple savory lassi

  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon mint – fresh or dried

Chocolate lassi

Dr Mercola’s recent article on the Health Benefit of Dark Chocolate (Cocoa) is amazing. And what’s better than combining Cocoa with active live probiotics – like those in Kefir that INCREASE those health benefits. Amazingly good and good for you.

The live probiotics in kefir [and also yogurt] feast on the cocoa and increases the health benefits of both the Kefir and the Cocoa. Our bacterial flora benefit as cocoa is a pre-biotic fostering the health of our beneficial microbes, while we benefit – not only from the great chocolate taste, but from the bacteria making the health benefits of cocoa more bioavailable. Over 50 health benefits are attributed to cocoa. From antioxidants, anti-inflamation, blood pressure, heart disorders, lower cholesterol, helps prevent pregnancy complications, reduces pain, helps vision, makes you smarter, and makes you feel good. To name a few.

The Happy Herbalist

For a more potent brew, combine cocoa with milk at beginning of fermentation. Keep a pure starter.

Sweet lassi

Combine sweetener with yogurt and let it sit for an hour. The flavor will be more complex then just combing sweetener with yogurt and drinking immediately.

Buttermilk/Tarka

A digestive, consumed after a meal, and only a small amount (1/4 – 3/4 cup). Much more diluted than a lassi (~2 tbsp yogurt to 1/4 cup water). This makes it “lighter” and easier to digest. Water should be at room temperature, not cold (cold would damper your digestive fire). Tarkas includes digestive spices and there is synergy with the yogurt and spices. Great year round after lunch and dinner.

Good to know

History

Oldest traditions are from ex-Yugoslavia to Central Asia. The drinks were simple and savory (just salt and perhaps dried mint).

Lassis became more popular via Moghuls invading India. Today yogurt drinks from India can be a bit more elaborate with more herbs, spices and sweeteners.

Are lassis and buttermilk appropriate for lactose intolerant individuals?

Lassis (and anything yogurt) have much less lactose than milk. Many lactose intolerant individuals are fine with lassis. Buttermilk has even less lactose. Just about everyone is fine with buttermilk.

Buttermilk is a digestive. How is it different from other digestives such as Swedish bitters, apple cider vinegar, and digestive enzymes?

Each of the above can help and influence our body differently with common goal of providing “ingestion of bacterial community” into our body as well as allowing new bacterial growth inside our gut. But like everything else, they have to be individualized and tweaked for every occasion and every body type. Which explains why apple cider does not work for everyone. Having said that, buttermilk is considered to be the most “tridoshic” balancing probiotic and Ayurveda always shoots for neutrality. Meaning buttermilk works for all body types. Lassi can aggravate kapha, apple cider can aggravate pitta, bitters can aggravate vata

Dr. Kalpna Ranadive

Special thanks & sources

Ed Kaspar – Chocolate lassi

Dr. Kalpna Ranadive

Butter milk — A healthy Drink described in Ayruveda by Dr. Savitha Suri

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