Mango Lassi – Is This The World’s Best Smoothie?

A fruit and juice stall in Kolkata, India

A fruit and juice stall in Kolkata, India

Kolkata is one of the most chaotic cities I’ve ever visited.

Buses, taxis, trams, and rickshaws (both human powered and motor powered) look like they’re aiming to hit you from every direction while you frantically walk along the roads or cross the dangerous streets.

But within the mess of humanity and insane driving are some seriously incredible gems, one of them being the mango lassi lane.

Ever since Wandering Earl labeled the mango lassi one of the best kept travel secrets in the entire world, I knew when I traveled to India I couldn’t miss this spectacular beverage.

After crossing the intersection just outside the Esplanade Metro station, a Kolkata intersection where anyone who passes experiences near life threatening encounters with all things moving on the road, there’s a little lane that’s home to 3 or 4 stores piled artfully with fruit.

The lane also happens to conveniently be right between Bhojohori Manna, an amazing place to eat Bengali food, and a street known as James Hickey Sarani, which is my favorite Kolkata street food street.

The gorgeous colors and fruit sculptures will draw you in even before you know what they serve.

And then you’ll see the sign, half blocked by hanging fruit, that reads “Mango Lassi.”

The ultimate mango lassi in Kolkata - perhaps the best mango smoothie in the world in my book.

The ultimate mango lassi in Kolkata – perhaps the best mango smoothie in the world in my book.

A mango lassi is basically an Indian style mango smoothie or milkshake.

It’s a blended combination of sweet Indian mangoes paired mostly with thick creamy yoghurt known as lassi, and probably a lot of sugar as well.

Another phenomenal addition were the toppings, which in this case, consisted of a few cashew nuts, an almond, some raisins, and a few crumblings of something that tastes like salty cheese (and though that might sound a little weird, it really worked well).

The owner of the mango lassi stall

The owner of the mango lassi stall

I first began delightfully nursing my mango lassi from the straw.

It was one of the creamiest smoothies I’ve ever had the privilege of devouring, and the mango flavor protruded with a burst of refreshing fruitiness.

After sucking about half of my mango lassi down, I couldn’t control myself any longer and ditched the slender straw so I could gulp down the cup and fish out the toppings.

I must say, the nuts, raisins, and that cheesy stuff on top were genius extra supplements. The nuts provided a wonderful nutty crunch while the cheese delivered a marvelous slightly salty contrast to the sweet creamy mango.

Mango lassi - the best smoothie I've ever had

Mango lassi – the best smoothie I’ve ever had

Just like durian ice cream in Bangkok, this mango lassi in Kolkata transported me into a brand new world of smoothie possibilities – superior to anything other I’ve ever had anywhere.

It cost 25 Indian rupees ($0.46), and that was the price of pure smoothie joy.

There’s no doubt, the mango lassi is one of the world’s greatest blended concoctions.

Mango lassi fruit stall in Kolkata, India

Mango lassi fruit stall in Kolkata, India

Here’s where you’ll find the Mango Lassi Lane when you visit Kolkata:

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  1. Laura says

    I’ve never had one with the toppings on it! Although I don’t know, it’d be tough to beat the smoothies in Thailand in my book. Although I’ve forgotten almost all the Thai words I learned, I still remember “watermelon smoothie, please.” And “delicious.”

    • says

      Hey Laura, yes Thailand does have some great shakes too – but the main difference is that these Indian lassis are dominated by yogurt, which is rarely used in Thailand. Both are incredibly awesome!

  2. says

    I don’t think I’ve ever lusted so much after a drink. This looks freaking amazing. I love mangos. Fresh mangos, sticky rice and mangos, mango lassis. It’s the perfect fruit.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. says

    I need this in my life right now!
    Funnily enough I made a mango shake today at home in England and it was pretty good but I know that the added lassi must be out of this world amazing!

  4. says

    Good lord. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff when I lived in Singapore but man that is the best looking mango lassi I’ve ever seen.

  5. says

    hey..i went there last 2 weeks but don’t have time for this sad. but we managed to try lassi at The Blue Lassi in Varanasi..the best lassi I’ve ever had! you should try if you go to Varanasi.

  6. Soutik says

    Hey Mark,

    That cheesy thing you are talking about is actually a sweetmeat. It can be either Barfi or Kalakand or Khowa.. in most probabilities it would be khowa: made out of homemade cottage cheese( Known as Chhana- from which we get the Rosogulla)..

    Thanks once again to remind me of the good old days when we friends used to bunk the school/college to roam around esplanade area, gulp down the Lassi (Atleast 2 glass) and make merry. At that time it costed around 15 bucks.

    • says

      Hey Soutik,

      Great, thanks for sharing. I was confused what that topping was, so thanks for clearing it up. It was definitely milk based, and now that you say that I think it probably was khowa – I later tried some desserts made from khowa in Varanasi.

      Are you still living in Kolkata now, or have you moved away?

      • Soutik says

        Hey Mark,

        Currently I am in Louisville, Kentucky. I left Kolkata for job by mid-2007. However, I was based in Pune and made it a point to visit Kolkata thrice a year. Left for Louisville a year back, not sure when would be the next time to visit Kolkata. But my parents and sister stay there and I get regular updates from several of my foodie school and college pals.

  7. says

    I visited Kerala two years ago and completely forgot about “lassis” until I was this post. I too was obsessed with them during my entire stay in India. Great post, it bought back memories.

  8. Mark Lewis says

    You are winding me up big time with gorgeous food and great presentation that I now have to book a trip to India for winter. You MUST do a travel series for food channel and I for one can vouch that you will have 100’s of million followers. Absolutely cracking and keep up your good and informative work going.

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