Sweet Indian lassi
For a few days, I’ve been craving mango lassi, but haven’t been able to get anywhere that sells it. So I decided to make it myself. Problem #1: I didn’t have any mangos at home, and all the stores were closed. However, I’ve seen recipes for “sweet lassi” that don’t actually contain any fruit, so I decided to base myself on those.
Into the container for my hand blender went about 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (the 3.25% fat kind), 1/2 cup cold water, 3 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon (it should have been cardamom, but I don’t have any cardamom in the house), a splash of vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Blend the whole thing up until it’s smooth, serve over lots of ice cubes.
In the end, the texture was just about right (maybe just slightly too thin). The taste, though… Weirdly, it tasted like apple pie with ice cream. Must be the mixture of cinnamon and vanilla, because there weren’t any apples in there. Very tasty, but just… unexpected. Marc and I both enjoyed it, and I’d probably make it again. It’s very easy, very fast, and uses stuff I’ve got on hand. (Though I’d love to get some cardamom to try it “for real.”)
For a variety of time-related reasons, I find myself needing to buy lunches for most of this week. And while I generally try to be frugal, some of the lunch deals come with tea (or, rather, coffee that I replace with tea). Now, when I’m bringing lunches from home, I have an afternoon snack consisting of a baked good and my favorite black tea from DavidsTea, Buttered Rum. But I figured if I was going to be getting bland bag tea with my meals anyway, I might as well try to spice them up.
Fortuitous, then, that my RSS reader should deliver this recipe for chai concentrate. It’s pretty simple, really: one tin of sweetened condensed milk with a bunch of spices stirred in. Conveniently, I happened to have a tin of sweetened condensed milk sitting on my pantry shelf, a relic from last Channukah when I got a book of dessert recipes, many of which called for condensed milk. I meant to bake the recipes, never got around to it, and so I had this tin of condensed milk that was looking for a use. (It’s good until September 2012. I checked.)
For one thing, I’d never used sweetened condensed milk before. Until now, I’d really only ever heard it referenced in Good Omens. (Shadwell drinks it a lot.) It’s… very thick. Much thicker than I expected. More the consistency of honey than milk. Also, it’s very sticky. I stirred in the spices and put it in a 250-ml mason jar to bring to work. (Only replacement: replaced the cardamom, which I didn’t have, with 1/4 tsp ground ginger.)
Bought some tea with my lunch and tried it out. It’s… okay. It lends the milk and sugar and a bit of spice to the tea, but it’s not really “chai.” And when you get down near the bottom, it’s very granular because of all the spices that have settled there.
Will I finish the container? Probably, given that it lasts 6 months in the fridge. Will I ever make more? Probably not.
So the coffee machine at work makes really watery hot chocolate. Today I decided to see if adding soy milk to it would thicken it up a bit and make it any better.
Now it tastes like watery hot chocolate with a soy aftertaste. Blech!
Time to go make some tea, I think.
For those of you who haven’t followed the ongoing saga of the salep, I discovered this drink at Your Inner Vagabond at Pennsic last year. It tastes like hot vanilla. I’ve been trying — in vain, so far — to find it in Montreal.
I found powdered salep (uncut, just the orchid root) at the Jean Talon Market on Tuesday. Yes, it was bloody expensive: $8 for about 2 teaspoons, enough for 3-4 servings. But it was the pure, unadulterated stuff, no cornstarch added.
I made some tonight. It’s wonderful. It’s everything I hoped it would be.
Except that it’s almost $3 a serving. Ah well, can’t have everything.
Discovering we had no hot chocolate mix in the house (at least, none that didn’t date back to my days in elementary school… I wish I were kidding), I decided to makeshift some of my own.
Point for future reference: mixing melted chocolate chippits and soy milk will not produce hot chocolate, no matter how much you want it to.
At Pennsic this year, I discovered an absolutely wonderful Turkish drink called sahlep. It’s made from a mountain root, and tastes like hot, creamy vanilla. From what I understand, the root is often sold pre-mixed with sugar as a powder, and the drink is made much like hot chocolate.
Since I returned to Montreal, I’ve been trying to find this powder. I have been, on the whole, unsuccessful.
Working off a tip, I checked of Akhavan, the Arabic grocery store on Sherbrooke in NDG. They didn’t have a drink sahlep mix, but they did have a powdered dessert mix called sahlab, which is made with sahlep root. I finally tried it out today.
The results were… erm… interesting. The end results, which look exactly like they’re supposed to according to the package, is more like vanilla pudding than a drink. It’s fairly tasty, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the wonderful, creamy drink I tried at Pennsic.
I’ve heard that there’s a place in the Jean Talon Market that sells the unadulterated root, so that’s where I’m going to try next. It may be expensive, but damnit I want to have this drink again before next Pennsic rolls around!
Final verdict: good for what it is, but not what I wanted.