It's really rare that I look at a menu and think; "Damn! I can't have that!" Usually if there's something I want but can't have, my response is an indifferent "Meh"; it's not something I want THAT badly, or couldn't make an equally good version of at home.
But last week, we were in an Indian restaurant, and I was vaguely looking over the drinks menu and for a second got excited. I'd already exclaimed out loud; "They do lassis!" before I remembered. Yogurt. Argh.
Yogurt is the one and only item for which, since becoming vegan, I've been unable to find a truly satisfactory substitute. I'm not talking flavoured yogurts here, which are easier to mimic, I'm talking natural, tart yogurt that can go with anything. Soy yogurt, even Sojade, still tastes of... well, soy. It works as a cooler to spicy foods, making it generally an acceptable substitute, but it can't hold up against dairy as a solo performer. I couldn't dump it in a bowl and eat it with fruit. Coconut yogurt, on the other hand, which many say is the best, is so expensive that I've never tried it... And almond yogurt isn't available in the UK.
I once found a mango "lassi" in a shop made mostly of cashews, sweetened with dates, got excited, and was completely let down. It was bitty and gritty, barely mango-y, thick and boring rather than creamy and decadent. Since it was a "health" food it was expensive as well - it wasn't worth a penny. So I assumed lassis were a lost cause.
But then I was inspired to I try making my own. I used none of the above yogurt alternatives - instead I turned to the old faithful ingredient in vegan desert-making that is silken tofu. And I'm so glad I did. This came out perfect on the first try, and it is perfection - no different to the creamy, sweet, desert-like beverage I occasionally poured down my throat in Indian restaurants.
Pair it with your favourite spicy foods, and sink into dairy-free yogurt bliss.
UK Folk: Anyone else bugged (no pun intended) by the whole ban on imports thing?
My partner only recently tried a plain mango for the first time (Brazillian.) He then went around claiming to be a mango devotee and making a huge show of "mmm"-ing and "ahh"-ing over the regular mangoes he bought.
Non-UK Folk: If you have access to Alphonsos, please eat a crate of them on my behalf.
Mango Lassi (Vegan)
Ingredients (2 large servings)
- 1 Mango
- 1 package silken tofu
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Sweetener (Amount will vary dependent upon your tastebuds and the ripeness of the mango. I found 2 tsbsp coconut sugar for the whole recipe to be perfect, but most people will like it sweeter.)
- 1/16 tsp salt
- Optional: Ground cardamom, a few saffron strands, more salt to taste
1. If using an immersion blender, blend half the milk with the other ingredients, then stir in the rest of the milk. If using any other kind of blender/food processor, just chuck everything in and blend!
2. Pour into glasses and serve. (Or, if you're patient enough, leave in the fridge to chill and get even thicker.)