Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Buttermilk – The Wonder Ingredient

Buttermilk is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with.  I use it to marinate chicken.  I would never consider making biscuits without it.  It is often used to make cakes.  It is used to make salad dressings.  There is even a buttermilk pie.

When I talk to my students about buttermilk, they frown as if it is the worst thing they have ever heard of.   The name buttermilk seems to imply “full of fat”.  However, the original buttermilk was the milk left over after making butter; thus the name, buttermilk.  There is very little fat in buttermilk, making it a lowfat product. 

As a kid, I remember my parents and grandparents pouring buttermilk over cornbread and eating it for supper.  (Yes, supper, not dinner.)  With a touch of sugar, it wasn’t a bad dish.  Americans don’t seem to favor consuming buttermilk as a beverage.  I always thought that when fruit was put into yogurt, they would do the same thing for buttermilk.  It seemed like a natural progression of things.  But there was no such luck.  Buttermilk still languishes in the frig waiting for your next favorite dish. 

Well, I think it’s time for buttermilk to step out on its own, no more hiding out in cakes and salad dressings.  A few years ago, I came across a recipe for mango lassi. 

As I did research for this posting, I found that lassi is a beverage with its origins in India.  Indians make this beverage by blending yogurt with water or milk.  Traditional or salted lassi is a savory drink, sometimes flavored with ground cumin.  Sweet lassi is made with fruits and sugar can be added.  I believe it is traditionally made with yogurt, but this recipe called for buttermilk. 

If posssible, make this recipe with ataulfo mangoes.  Ataulfo mangoes tend to be more flavorful and juicier.

Mango Lassi

Serves 4.


2 ½ cups chopped peeled mango
1 quart buttermilk
¼ cup sugar


1.       Purée mango in blender until smooth.  Add buttermilk and blend well.
2.       Strain mixture through a sieve.  Add sugar, stir and serve.
3.       Add ice, if desired.

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