Smoothie, Lassi, Whatever

Forty years ago, one of our great treats was my Dad's homemade milk shake. Milk, ice-cream if we had it, and a splash out of one of those sticky bottles of brightly coloured syrup. Especially once we got a blender, and you could make it go all bubbly without having to whisk it by hand.

Thirty years ago, we had a popular hangover drink of natural yoghourt mixed with grapefruit juice, with a dash of Tabasco for the hardier souls. Then as we started hanging out at the corner caff end of the Indian restaurant market, we discovered lassi – diluted yoghourt drink, sometimes salt, sometimes sweet with palm sugar and fruit juices and purees. Mango, lime, orange. In time, lassi got more well known, and it's on most restaurant menus now. You can get it ready-mixed in some supermarkets, even. And the smoothie has reared its head, full of your five-a-day and active superfoods and general gubbins. Sugar, mostly. Some of them are just thick fruit juices, but some have the dairy component as well.

I made a Thing at home the other day – a ripe banana, some organic greek thick yoghourt, some oldish blueberries and some mango chunks out of the freezer. Whizz whizz, two half pint glasses full, really rich and heavy, bursting with fruity oopmh, cold from the mango. It would have made a quick meal, and was much much more than a drink.

You can go all the way from thin drink (juice, or squash at a pinch, cheap thin yoghourt, lots of ice and some lime and salt to sharpen it up) to something more like a fool, with purees and yoghourt and soft ice-cream. Waitrose has a recipe card for a mango lassi fool, which is mango puree mixed with yoghourt and whipped cream, lime juice, honey and cardamom, and decorated with strips of dried mango. Last time we were in Amsterdam I had a saffron yoghourt, a cross between a drink and a dessert, sweet and thick and darkly yellow.

I've never been sure about spices in Drink Things, they tend to turn gritty or taste raw. They certainly have their place in Indian spiced tea, where they've had a chance to infuse. Maybe I need to look at making home-made yoghourt again, adding cardamom pods and cinnamon and cloves and fennel to the warm milk at the start.

In the early days, we had to chop fresh mangoes or buy mango nectar, which was oversweet and overpriced. But Waitrose now kindly provide me with fresh peeled cubed mango, or the same thing frozen, which is cheaper. And if you look among the tinned fruit, there are plastic pots with tropical fruit mixes in juice, including one with mango slices. There are frozen blueberries, raspberries, papaya, all sorts. And you could freeze your own fruits from the pick-your-own for the winter, and reduce those icky food miles.

Summer will bring strawberries, and beneath the mango lassi fool card, I found one for stawberries baked in foil parcels on the barbie, with Pimms and sugar, served with clotted cream. Now, that would make a WARM smoothie to ease the chills on a late summer night …

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Chandrika’s Garlic Mango Pickle

Following on from the mango wraps, the same article in olive February 2004 included a raw mango pickle which looked, um, lively.

  • 1 medium green unripe mango, washed
  • 1 small head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
  • 3 tbsps salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 0.5 tsp hing / asafoetida
  • 3 tbsps black mustard seeds, coarsely ground
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds, coarsely ground
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil

Cut the mango into small chunks, leaving the peel on, and discard the stone.

Mix everything together and put in a jar in a cool place for about a week. Will keep in the fridge for about another month.

I wouldn't put this in a jar with a metal lid. I suspect it would develop quite a bit of sauce as it matured, and would be sour and crunchy. Totally unlike the cooked sweet mango chutney you can buy, more like the lime pickle end of things. I've got everything in the house except the mango, am tempted to just pop out for a moment …

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Mango Salad Wraps

There's a recipe in one of the Moosewood books I've always liked, where you make little one-bite wraps with spinach leaves, filling each with pinches ot peanuts, toasted coconut, and chopped raw limes. This is a grown up version of that, it sounds well fiddly to make but deeply yummy. Serves 4, no nutritional info given. From olive, February 2004.

  • 6 small chopped shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 cm root ginger
  • 3 mild red chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsps roasted salted peanuts
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 2 tbsps fish sauce
  • 4 tbsps palm sugar (or light muscovado)
  • 2 heads bok choi or lettuce
  • 2 firm not too ripe mangoes, finely sliced lengthways
  • Half a fresh coconut, shaved into shreds with a potato peeler
  • Handful fresh basil, Thai if you can get it
  • 4 spring onions, finely shredded lengthways
  • 2 limes, halved

Blast the shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies in a food processor until well chopped but not mushy.

Crush the peanuts, keeping some texture.

In a pan, heat 200 ml water, the shallot mixture, the peanuts, shrimp paste, fish sauce and sugar. Boil hard, stirring, for 15 – 20 minutes until thick, dark, sticky and glossy.

Lay out everything on a platter, with the sauce in little bowls.

Take a leaf of bok choi or lettuce, lay on a slice of mango, spread with peanut sauce, add coconut, basil and onions. Squeeze with lime juice, roll and eat.

You'd have to be careful what bok choi you got, so there was a lot of leaf to white stalk. Spinach might be just as good as lettuce. Having to slice the mangoes that way round means no cheating and buying pre-prepared, you could do that but you'd have to rethink the physical structure of the wrap to allow for cubes of mango. It would mean you could have riper mango, though. This has the potential to be really, really sticky – get lots of wetwipes.

 

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Mango & Lime Yoghourt Cake

Again from delicious, June 2005. Keeps in a cake tin for 4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. 10 slices at 314 cals per slice, but this is a treat so who cares. You can ring the changes with any kind of ready-to-eat dried sweet fruit like pineapple or apricots, and you could use lemon instead of lime.

 

  • 125 ml sunflower oil plus extra for greasing
  • 125 gms ready-to-eat dried mango
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 125 gms natural yoghourt (doesn't specify fat content)
  • 175 gms golden caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 175 gms plain flour, sifted
  • 1.5 tsps baking powder
  • 100 gms icing sugar
  • 25 gms toasted coconut (flaked or dessicated)

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4, grease and line a 900 gm loaf tin.

Snip the mango into pieces.

Mix half the lime zest, the yoghourt, sugar, oil, eggs, flour, baking powder and not quite all the mango – beat with a wooden spoon until just smooth.

Pour into the tin and bake 50 minutes or until the skewer is clean.

Turn out to cool on a rack.

Mix icing sugar with enough lime juice to make a thick but slightly runny icing. Drizzle over cake and top with the coconut, remaining lime zest and mango.

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