Ever heard of Kale Kehsun Ki Lassi, Ginger Lassi, Wild Spinach Lassi, Custard Apple Lassi, Brown (caramelised) Onion Lassi or Beetroot Lassi?
No! Well, Lassis of India – Smoothies with a Twist, Radha Bhatia’s debut book, contains such eclectic recipes concerning one of India’s famous cold beverages. No wonder then, the book bagged an award in the 'Drinks with No Alcohol' category at the coveted Gourmand World Award 2020.
Lassis of India… is as much a result of this travel and trade entrepreneur’s passion for cooking and concern for health as it is of her urge to pass on the Indian healthy delights she enjoyed growing up to the younger generation, heavily influenced by the Western culture.
The book begins with 'Panchamrit', followed by 17 traditional lassi recipes Bhatia collected combing the length and breadth of India; each with its unique taste and health benefits. The other 57 recipes are the modern derivatives – lassis with a twist.
Interestingly, the idea for this book germinated at the dining table two years ago. "We had just finished our breakfast when I told my grandchildren, ‘let us make some mango lassi’. They made a funny face and said, ‘we don't like lassi’. A little while later I told them lets make mango smoothie and they got all excited.”
That set her thinking. A trifle sad about the Indian culture and tradition being “diminished with the angreziyat”, she decided to bring out a book exclusively on Indian smoothies – lassis.
Her initial research into the world of lassis led her to understand that a region’s climate, availability of the ingredients and food habits determine the ingredients in each variety of this chill concoction. Her roundup of 17 traditional recipes includes the Punjabi 'Meethi Lassi' and 'Talicha More' of Tamil Nadu.
The book is also treasure house for interesting trivia like kitchen secrets, Indian cultural roots, local customs, climate, and cuisines. Each recipe recounts a small story, which makes the book interesting. “Whenever we complained about having a headache, my grandmother would give us warm milk with jalebi in it, and the headache would go away. The book also has my grandmother’s picture,” says Bhatia, recounting the backstory behind Jalebi Lassi.
A major issue Bhatia faced with Lassis of India… when she took the book to publishers. “They needed at least 200 pages while mine fitted into 30. That was when I decided to include some modern versions. So the 57 'modern' recipes you see in the book are all my preparations,” says Bhatia.
Drinking lassi, she says, in these times is very important. “A lassi has a lot of spices and herbs, which increases the body’s immunity. Being freshly prepared and consumed, it doesn't contain harmful preservatives, and apart from being tasty is also healthy,” she says, adding that the simple-to-follow recipes are for those who love to cook.
“I hope to pass on this priceless legacy to the new generation and help them live a healthier life,” says Bhatia, now planning her next book. She reveals that the upcoming one will also be on the lines of cooking and healthy eating.