mint and peach lassi


peach with mint lassi drink

There it was, this little produce stand that we almost drove past by on our way back from Sonoma. Quaint with its worn out thatched roof that seemed weakly held together by long wooden beams on the side of the road with the pretty backdrop of wine valley. We were out of eggs and I figured it might be worth our while to see if we could pick some up here because by the time we'd reach home, I knew neither of us would be in the mood to deal with a busy supermarket. 

peaches for lassi

My eyes were to hunt for the presence of eggs in this little stall but they failed their purpose and wandered towards the end of one of the tables that housed a stack of wooden crates filled with large golden orbs that enticed with promises of juicy sweetness. They drew me closer and I went ahead and grabbed one of those big golden balls of sunshine. I held one close to inhale its sweet fragrance and that peach reminded me that this is one of the very reasons that makes summer so special. 

peach and mint lassi drink

Lassis are probably one of my favorite drinks and in India we'd drink fresh lassis every hot summer day in tall glasses filled with the chilled sweet liquid. With my fresh ripe peaches a sweet and cool lassi that would serve to cool and refresh was definitely in order! Lassis should be thin and not heavy and thick so avoid using Greek yogurt and use either non-fat or regular plain unsweetened yogurt and then adjust the consistency with water. There is really no need to add sugar to the drink because these peaches were crazy sweet and I love when I don't have to add extra sweeteners! But feel free to adjust the sweetness as needed.

peach and mint lassi
peach lassi with mint

mint and peach lassi

yields: 2 servings

ingredients

1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain yogurt (non-fat or regular) 
1 1/2 cups ripe peaches, peeled and diced + a few pieces to garnish
3/4 cup water, chilled (you can add more or less depending on how thin you like the consistency)
3-4 fresh mint leaves + a few sprigs to garnish

1. Place the yogurt, 1 1/2 cups peaches, water and 3-4 mint leaves in a blender. Pulse until smooth and completely combined.
2. Serve in chilled classes and garnish with extra peach fruit pieces and a sprig of fresh mint.

Note: Traditionally lassi is made with regular yogurt and the lassi should be thin. Do not use Greek yogurt here or it will be too thick. Indian lassis should be refreshing and light and not heavy.

spiced chilled almond milk thandai

Thandai

I'm guessing if it is as hot as it is here in D.C., you will probably be like me thinking of all sorts of ways to cool off. At this point, getting wet while watering the garden is turning out to be a pleasant experience! There are more convenient and better ways to chill in this hot and humid weather, one being this delicious drink from Northern India.

Thandai

, as it is commonly called is a chilled drink mildly laced with delicious fragrant spices served on hot summer days and during

Holi

- the festival of color. 

Almond milk and sunflower seeds
Thandai spice mix

All the spices ground to prepare the

thandai

are aromatic that contribute distinctive tastes but they somehow magically come together. The licorice-like taste of fennel with the green cardamom seeds provide the sweet flavor for the background to the drink while the peppercorn and cloves lend a refreshing taste. It is best to use good quality and fresh spices when preparing the blend to get a delicious tasting batch of

thandai

. I've modified and adapted the recipe from Julie Sahni's

Classic Indian Cooking

cookbook. 

Thandai glassful

Though, I have used almond milk to prepare the

thandai

, traditionally you would use chilled milk or water. However, I find the flavors of the spices to be much more delicate and balanced when almond milk or milk are used. I also prefer my final drink to be less sweet in taste and so I reduced the amount of sugar but feel free to add more sugar if you like it sweeter.

Chilled thandai

spiced chilled almond milk thandai 

yields:

8-10 servings

ingredients

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

a pinch of saffron (optional)

1 teaspoon green cardamom seeds

6 whole cloves

10 peppercorns

1 cup toasted watermelon or sunflower seeds 

4 cups boiling water

3/4 cup brown sugar

4 cups fresh almond milk, chilled 

1. Grind the fennel, saffron, cardamom, cloves, and cardamom in a coffee or spice grinder to a fine powder. 

2. Add the sunflower seeds along with half the water, ground spices, and sugar to a food processor. Blend to get a smooth paste. Add the remaining water and pulse for 5 seconds. 

3. Pass the mixture from the blender through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Squeeze and press out as much liquid over a bowl as you can by wringing the cheesecloth as tight as possible. Transfer the liquid concentrate to a clean bottle and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator before use. 

4. Before preparing the drink stir the chilled concentrate (some separation might occur on standing which is perfectly normal). In a large bowl, mix the concentrate with the chilled almond milk before serving. Pour the thandai into chilled glasses containing 

crushed ice or ice cubes. The concentrate stays good for up to a week in the refrigerator.

saffron and almond filmjólk

yogurt drink

Last week, I fell in love twice. Yes twice, the delicious first time happened when I sat down to eat at Little Serow. Even if you have to wait in a line to be seated (they only seat a few people every day and don't take reservations), it is every bit, well worth the wait. The restaurant's menu is inspired by northern Thai cuisine and every dish is a wonderful delight. The menu is fixed and every plate really does lives up to its expectation of being an explosion of flavors that will transport you to a delicious plane of spice, heat, and textures. We had a continuous supply of fresh crisp vegetables and sticky rice to go with our unique dishes that included a diverse variety of meats from fish (catfish and snakehead fish), chicken, and pork cooked. I am really not surprised that Chef Johnny Monis' Little Serow made it to Bon Appetit's America's Best New Restaurants in 2012. If you are ever in the Washington D.C. area, do try and make some time to visit this amazing treat in the city. Since I've learned that the menu changes often, it might have to become a monthly staple on my calendar!

Saffron Strands

Now on to my second love! I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of yogurts and I always make it a point to try some sort of new type of yogurt. I recently came across this amazing brand of Swedish yogurt called  Filmjólk by Siggi. According to the description on the bottle and the website, filmjólk is a traditional drinkable yogurt with a blend of different types of lactobaccilli. I love this yogurt plain, just a tall glass of the plain variety of filmjólk every morning is absolutely delicious. The plain version has a mild sour taste with a little tangy effervescence at the end which makes it so refreshing. It also goes great with a bowl of muesli and granola for breakfast. It goes great with almost  everything!

Almonds and Siggis

Here is a popular Indian drink known as kesar-badam or saffron-almond milk that is usually made with whole milk and sometimes a little heavy cream. However, I've used filmjólk yogurt for the base and then blended the rest of the ingredients in. I guess this a sort of Indo-Nordic fusion drink now! This recipe is way lighter in unnecessary calories, since it skips the cream and excess fat and sugar but also packs up way more protein, making it a fun smoothie that I will drink even before or after my daily workouts. The saffron strands add a beautiful yellowish orange tinge to the yogurt while the almonds add valuable fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to the drink. Almonds are probably one of the healthiest nuts available and have several important reported health benefits in heart disease and bone loss prevention making this is a win-win situation from every angle, I can think of. I tend to lightly sweeten this drink with a little agave nectar or honey but if you prefer it sweeter you can always add more (or less). 

saffron yogurt almond drink

saffron and almond filmjólk

yields: 2 servings

ingredients

20-25 whole almonds
4 tablespoons water
a pinch of saffron
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, ground
2 cups plain non-fat filmjólk yogurt, chilled
1 tablespoon agave nectar/honey
a few coarsely chopped toasted pistachios for garnishing

1. Cover and soak the almonds in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain the water and peel and discard the skin of the almonds. Keep the peeled almonds aside.
2. Heat the four tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe, heat-proof glass bowl in a microwave till it boils (about 45 seconds on high). Drop the saffron strands into the hot water and keep aside for 5 minutes to allow the saffron color to diffuse into the water.
3. In a blender, add the peeled almonds, the saffron water with the strands, cardamom, yogurt, and  agave nectar/honey. Blend until completely smooth.
4. Pour the drink into pre-chilled serving glasses and garnish with the chopped pistachios. Serve immediately or keep chilled until ready to drink. You can also add a little crushed ice to the drink before serving.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation or gifts from Siggis  for this post.

bombay granitas


Thanks to you guys, I had a wonderful start to the week, actually its been the perfect start! A Brown Table's Chilled Almond Milk-Drunk cake was featured by the wonderful people at The Kitchn as part of their "Most Delicious Links" series. To celebrate here is a fun recipe that I hope you will try and love. I know the thought of having granitas in February sounds weird and makes me sound a tad bit crazy, but it does feel like spring and now the weather man says it will be another six weeks of warm weather. Who knows if a dusting of snow will rear its ugly head. Despite these factors, my Bombay granitas are here to stay. Let me explain why I named these granitas after Bombay. If you have ever traveled to Bombay (or Mumbai), you must have definitely heard of its characteristic and wonderful street food known as "chaat". If you haven't, well then you must put it on your bucket list. Chaat encompasses the delicious savory snacks that you will perhaps see on a wooden cart of a street vendor who will harbor tons of sweet and spicy snacks. From little pan fried potato cakes served with creamy garbanzo beans to freshly pressed sugarcane or lemon drinks flavored with roasted spices served with ice, chaat certainly holds its own unique and special place in Indian cuisine.


Fresh nectarine and pear fruit in this granita are gently spiced with several heavenly aromatic spices and doused with a little fresh ginger and lemon juice that lend a fresh and bright flavor. This spiced fruit granita is excitingly refreshing and soothing, don't let the spices scare you away. You can find all of them at your local grocers. This recipe is simple, fast and easy and only requires a blender or a food processor to puree the fruits together.You could also dunk a good sized scoop of this granita into a flute loaded with champagne for a Sunday brunch or perhaps even Valentine's Day. Now before I forget, let me remind you about the deadline to the cookbook giveaway which is getting closer and in case you haven't entered, hurry up and go to the Contest for more details. The "Encyclopedia of Sandwiches" is a great book on classic and modern sandwiches loaded with some gorgeous photographs that will make you very, very happy and of course hungry.


bombay granitas

yields: 4-6 servings

ingredients

chaat spice mix
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground black salt
3 cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander/cilantro seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon powdered Kashmiri chilies or cayenne pepper


1 medium sized ripe pear
4 nectarines
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root juice
juice of one fresh lemon
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
a few fresh mint leaves to garnish

1. Heat a pan on a medium flame and gently toast the cumin, coriander seeds and pepper till they get light brown and immediately transfer to a cool surface to prevent them from burning. 
2. Using a coffee grinder or blender, grind the toasted spices and the rest of the ingredients in the spice mix till you get a fine smooth powder. Store in an air-tight container where it will stay good for a few months.
3. Prepare a syrup by boiling the water and sugar together till completely dissolved and take off the gas and let it cool to room temperature. 
3. Peel, core and de-seed the pears and nectarines and then chop the fruit into large chunks. Put the fruit into a food processor along with the lemon and ginger juice and attach the lid. Begin to pour the sugar syrup into the food processor while pulsing the fruit pulp and juices to a smooth puree. 4. Transfer the fruit mixture to a freezer-safe pan or bowl or container and stir in one teaspoon of the ground chaat spice mixture. Cover with cling film or a lid and freeze overnight or for at least 4-6 hours. Before serving, scrape the granita out with a metal spoon/fork into pre-chilled drinking glasses and garnish with fresh mint.