KARACHI: Just a sip from your tall glass of cool lassi, be it sweet or salty, in this weather feels like you have an air-conditioner on inside of you.
That is the reason why Saleem Sahab of Punjab Lassi at Burnes Road says that they make and sell the most lassi during summers. “We are making the drink again and again in the hot weather while in the winter few people demand lassi, that too as an afterthought,” he says with a smile.
A man sitting on a stool on his left is busy mixing yogurt, milk and water with a wooden churner in a brass container. He adds in sugar before pouring the drink into tall glasses with crushed ice. The ice, sugar and yogurt is placed in big clay and metal taslas and other containers around him. For those who like salty lassi, he adds in salt instead of sugar.
“The heat makes us sweat so much and salty lassi helps replenish the nutrients lost through perspiration,” he says. “Also some people buy jugs full of salty lassi from us to have with their meals.”
Meanwhile, the man making the lassi doesn’t seem to be getting even a moment’s rest. Asked why don’t they make lassi in a liquidiser, or with an eggbeater maybe, Saleem Sahab quickly shakes his head. “It wouldn’t be the same thing then! The lassi will not be as tasty then. It will also lose its charm,” he says.
He also shares that to make a refreshing and tasty glass of lassi, you need fresh sweet yogurt. “The moment it turns sour, as it does with time, your lassi loses its taste. It wouldn’t be the same thing then!” he says.
It is obvious that sweet lassi sells more than the salty variety as more and more people come up to the shop for it. A glass of both types of lassi costs Rs70. When asked if they also sold lassi with fudge or pedas mixed in, Saleem Sahab shakes his head again.
“This is Karachi, not Lahore where the practice is more common. That kind of lassi is very heavy for the digestive system of Karachiites. I don’t want to put people to sleep here,” he points out before carefully placing a dollop of cream removed from the top of the yogurt tasla to make the liquid more creamy. “Some people like to finish their lassi and then eat the cream in the end to relish the taste, some have bits of the cream as they sip the drink,” says the shop owner.
Just like yogurt, lassi, reduces acidity in the stomach, and introduces good bacteria to the gut as it improves immunity. It is also full of calcium, protein, carbohydrates, Vitamins A, B and riboflavin. The drink is also good for people who are lactose intolerant as it converts the lactose to galactose and glucose by bacterial action.
These days lassi is also sold at big restaurants, but there the price for a glass surpasses Rs100. They also add mango or strawberries to the drink to give it a different flavour. But that kind of lassi is not common at yogurt shops, which only sell the traditional varieties. “It wouldn’t be the same thing then!” says Saleem Sahab.
Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2018