Lassi, the quintessential Indian yogurt drink to temper the fiery spices of Punjabi cuisine. In India, both sweet and savoury varieties are enjoyed – with the savoury ones often having spices such as cumin, and of course not a little salt. In the West we are perhaps more familiar with the sweet ones, mainly mango. Slippery, perfumed pulp blended with yogurt and ice. Perhaps a touch of saffron, or a pinch of cardamom. Simple but incredibly delicious.
Every Indian restaurant worth its salt (geddit) will offer at least a couple of lassis to cool the diner down and aid digestion. And often these restaurants – at least in the West – will offer cold, pale ale. In tall, vase-like glasses. Thirst-quenching for some, but when you want to cool down, there is nothing like a tall foamy lassi, condensation beading on the tall glass. Am I selling it to you?
But thinking about the ingredients, and the potential ingredients, I have hit upon a realisation: it is a near-perfect hangover ‘cure.’
This may be a slight overstatement: rip-roaring hangovers that involve, shall we say, purging, just need time, sleep and tiny steady sips of water. But the more garden-variety, one drink too many hangover may well be tamed with a little smarts and a blender.
You see, probiotic yogurt is populated by bacteria known to slow the “washing machine effect” that some may feel after a night on the town. It also contains cysteine, an amino acid depleted by alcohol and known to help to break down and detoxify many harmful substances, including alcohol (weird, huh). If one can literally stomach the idea of yogurt at such a delicate time, it may do a world of good.
Especially when paired with banana, lychees, honey, cardamom and nutmeg. Just a little and the yogurt is transformed from “ugh” to if not “mmm” than at least “well, alright then.”
The magic ingredients? Potassium, Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Fructose, Glucose. And the spices are not there just to taste good – although that is of course a good enough reason – they are known in Ayurvedic medicine to calm the stomach by relaxing the smooth muscles of the digestive tract. Both also help with pain and inflammation. As for the pinch of salt lurking among the sweet ingredients, well that is there to help replace lost salts due to undoubted dehydration.
So why am I banging on about hangovers? Three words: New Year’s Eve. I’m not judging. Just here to help. ;D I know most of us are healthy living types so this probably doesn’t really apply to you, but this lassi is a lovely, refreshing drink in any case. Perfect as a dessert option after a home-cooked Indian meal.
What of other cures? Here’s the gen on some tried and somewhat tested hangover cures. And this article from the Huffington Post is quite interesting, with ideas of what to do pre and post-drinking. But there is another ‘cure’ that was buzzed earlier this year: Sprite. Yes, Sprite. Of course, the best cure is actually prevention, but I do acknowledge that most of us who drink alcohol will go a teensy bit overboard at some point or other. Not necessarily impaired, but perhaps a bit less fresh-faced and perky the following day. Ageing, sex, hormonal fluctuations, medication and a host of other factors can also make even one or two drinks feel like three or four.
As we are on teen taxi duty this NYE we won’t be testing my pet theory about lassis just yet. But I can vouch that it is blender-licking good, and works wonders on a queasy stomach. And, lastly, you don’t need a hangover to enjoy this Banana-Lychee Lassi. It makes a wondrously perky breakfast smoothie with a side of something like porridge or scrambled eggs.
Are you making any good mocktails this New Year’s Eve? What ‘cures’ have you heard about that might help?
My pet theory is that this sweet, faintly savoury lassi ‘cures’ a hangover. But hangover or not, it is a delicious way to end a spicy meal, or start the day. Leave out the lychees if you can’t get them (they are easily available in the UK right now), or even the banana. But cardamom and nutmeg are clear flavour winners and I urge you to keep them. Vegans, non-dairy yogurt is a perfect substitute for the live yogurt, but be sure to get the bio (live) kind to get the full benefit to your gut.
Organic Bio Yogurt or kefir – 250g (scant 1 cup)
Water or Organic Milk – enough to thin
Small Banana – sliced
Lychees – 8, peeled and stoned (optional)
Cardamom – 1/8 – 1/4 tsp of ground seed or as powder (try with 1/8 first)
Nutmeg – 1/8 – 1/4 tsp freshly grated (as above)
Good Honey, Date Syrup or Maple Syrup – 1-2 tbsp, to taste (may not need if using both fruits)
Salt – a pinch OR (this is a bit hardcore, but loaded with B vitamins) nutritional yeast/brewer’s yeast
5 ice cubes
Pop it all in a blender and blitz until smooth. Drink immediately and then perhaps have some ibuprofen and a glass of water.
PS All of today’s photos were taken on my phone (Sony Xperia S) and I used Aviary to edit them. I went a bit wild on the first one though! Lots of noise ;D