Though lassi is a fairly common native drink available in almost every part of India, the Banarasi lassi is in a class of its own owing to the ingenuity of the residents. This world-famous lassi is extremely popular not only with the locals but also people visiting from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand.
Interestingly, this lassi is nothing like the frothy lassi of Punjab and is in fact more of a dessert than a refreshing drink! What sets the Banarasi lassi apart from the rest is the excellent quality milk and therefore, curd and malai and the secret ingredient which is Banaras’s very own speciality rabri or rabdi.
Thick milk is first boiled, slightly cooled and curdled. The curd these days is set in wide vessels called parats though in the olden days, it used to be set in evenly baked earthen pots. It is important for the curds to be set in this manner so that it will get a nice creamy layer of malai on the top.
A small portion of this set curds is scooped up into a jug or earthen pot and churned with a wooden mathani. The freshly prepared lassi is then skilfully poured into kulhads. A layer of malai from the set curds is placed on top of each kulhad and the lassi is topped off with a generous portion of fresh rabri.
The sinfully rich rabri with the creamy goodness of the lassi and malai will knock your socks off! There are no words to describe this heavenly delight as you dig into it with your wooden spoon while trying to drink a bit of the thick flavoursome lassi.
The best way to eat and drink this lassi according to the locals is to first take a spoonful of rabri, take a sip of lassi, take a spoonful of malai and then a sip of lassi as the unsweetened rabri is balanced with the intensely sweet lassi and creamy malai.
The best places to try Banarasi lassi is Lassi Bhandar in Ramnagar, Blue Lassi Shop and Pehelwaan ki Lassi near BHU. Besides the traditional lassi, mango lassi, chocolate lassi and guava lassi are hot favourites.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)