Saffron Lassi (Indian yogurt drink) by Rajni, Noble Indian Cooking, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

Corbin and I took a cooking class in the beautiful city of Udaipur. It was really more of an inspiring cooking show, as Rajni, a self-taught home cook, produced delicious masterpieces one after the other in her very compact home kitchen, with minimal assistance from either of us! I especially loved the little tips and tricks that Rajni shared with us, and started thinking of her as an Indian Auntie / Godmother of Indian Cooking. I was delighted when Rajni showed me how to make a proper lassi! I’d previously thought of the lassi as kind of a smoothie, but frozen mango chunks blended with yogurt, mango juice and ice (my previous shortcut version) isn’t quite the same. Rajni’s authentic version has a lovely subtle and sophisticated flavor thanks to the saffron and cardamom.


  • 1 ½ cups plain fresh yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tsp sugar or to taste
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 2 tsp finely chopped pistachios or cashews (optional)
  • A few raisins or other small pieces of dried fruit (optional)


  1. Mix yogurt with water. Pour into a muslin or cheesecloth bag (or cheesecloth-lined colander) and leave to drain for 30 minutes*
  2. Grind saffron with a teaspoon of warm milk in a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon in a bowl.  
  3. Add sugar, milk, cardamom powder and saffron mixture to yogurt; mix well.
  4. Pour into glasses and chill. Sprinkle with nuts and raisins to garnish, if desired. 

*You might be tempted to skip this step, but don’t! It’s important to remove the sour taste. Save the whey for another use; I use it instead of water as a base for vegan soups.

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