Lassi is probably one of the most popular and loved cold beverages during the hot summers.
The drink is made from cold milk and yogurt which are blended either in a machine or by hand and comes in sweet and salted varieties.
At times, barfi is also added to a glass of lassi before it is blended which enhances its taste and is the drink of choice in sehri.
Lassi was originally salty and the sweet version was developed in the urban areas. Many areas in rural Punjab still have salted lassi.
“Before the adding of sugar and salt became the norm, salty lassi was the one made from yogurt and the sweet version was the one made from milk, which was referred to as katchi lassi,” said a customer in Kartarpura, Hamza Ali.
Breakfast in downtown Rawalpindi during the summers consists of a paratha or kulcha topped with butter and accompanied with a glass of sweet lassi.
The lanes of downtown Rawalpindi have many shops and stalls where tall glasses of salted and sweet lassi are sold throughout the day.
The traditional tall steel glasses the lassi is served in are also much liked by the people and are also used as decoration pieces in houses.
Many outlets serve Kashmiri tea in the winters and switch to making lassi and ice-cream in the summers.
“Salted lassi is a traditional Punjabi drink but it is popular across the country. There are many flavours of the drink in Punjab including paira lassi, barfi lassi and now fruit flavoured lassi as people have started adding mangoes and strawberries to the drink,” said Sirajul Haq, the owner of a milk and lassi shop in Banni.
“People want sweet lassi and a kulcha or paratha stuffed with chicken or mince for breakfast. Many people have salted lassi with all three meals during the summers,” he said.
Abdullah, who owns a shop in Saddar, said people come to his shop for a drink of lassi in the afternoon and that many people also prefer to add various sharbats to their drink.
He said though more people were asking for flavoured lassi, they still preferred the original sweet and salted versions with their meals.
Mustafa Ahmed, a resident of Purana Qila said lassi is rich enough to substitute a meal.
“We come from Multan and in the summers, we would not have lunch and would have mangoes, lassi and some bread instead,” he said.
Rana Sabir Ali, a resident of Mohanpura said lassi was also used to make one of the favourite dishes in summer that is karee.
“There is an old saying in Rajput families of Punjab that there will always been karee and saag in their homes as karee is made from lassi which has gone sour and spinach is also easily found,” he said.
A customer at Kashmiri Bazaar, Tauseef Ahmed said he likes lassi because it does not have preservatives.
“A glass of lassi is must after a breakfast of nihari and sri paya,” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2017