Yoghurt drinks, not too sweet

When it comes to yogurt drinks, we got into a smoothie rut. Smoothies are everywhere, in every juice bar, street cart and delicatessen, and premixed in bottles lining supermarket shelves.

Not that there is anything wrong with sugary, frothy fruit and yogurt drinks – I make them often. But these aren’t the only cultivated drinks on the market.

In the countries of the world that love yogurt, the exciting possibilities abound. There is ayran, the savory foaming yoghurt libation from Turkey; borhani, the fragrant herb from Bangladesh; and sweet rosewater lassie from India, to name a few.

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Regardless of what form they take, yogurt drinks are nutritious and refreshing concoctions that can accompany or replace a meal – a mouthwatering option in the summer heat, when chewing seems strenuous and the desire to cook is sore. ‘collapses.

Once you start to think beyond the typical smoothie formula, it’s pretty easy to come up with your own yogurt combinations.

I like to start with the yogurt itself. Since artisanal yogurt has its time right now, there are plenty of choices beyond the usual non-fat, low-fat, and high-fat varieties.

In my supermarket, there’s ultra-creamy Greek yogurt, sour Bulgarian yogurt, viscous kefir, sheep’s milk and goat’s milk yogurt, and some scrumptious creamy stuff (my favorite). Farmers’ markets offer local yogurts that change throughout the year: herbaceous and creamy in summer, leaner and more tangy in winter. And specialty markets have new things like buffalo milk yogurt, which is rich, bright, and slightly funky. Turning these yogurts into drinks is another way to enjoy their charms.

When you have great yogurt, it’s best to keep it simple. Try mixing it with a splash of salt, sugar, or both. Then add a little water to thin it out and serve over ice cubes. It’s a refreshing and restorative drink perfect for a scorching afternoon.

A little more complex is a salt and pepper lassi which also includes fresh mint leaves, which are traditional, and lime zest, which is not. A touch of brown sugar keeps the acidity under control. The pepper replaces the roasted cumin seeds that usually appear in a salty lassi, and adds a slight bite.

Finally, on the sweeter side, consider a rhubarb rosewater shake mixed with honey and thick Greek yogurt. While the combination of fruit and yogurt suggests a smoothie, make no mistake about it. It is a heady and rich substance, less suitable for breakfast than for dessert.

Recipe: Rhubarb shake

Recipe: Salt and pepper lassi with mint

About Thomas B. Countryman

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