Delhi has no copyright over the sweet-tart lassi. The cool, creamy, frothy yoghurt drink is delicious nourishment across India, especially during summer. It is simple to make — whip in curd with sugar and it’s done. Add malai, it is heavy. Throw in some ice, it becomes light.
For the most memorable lassi experience in Delhi, go to the tail end of 17th century Chandni Chowk bazaar in Old Delhi. Two lassi joints — Amritsari Lassiwalla (circa 1974) and Meghraj (since 1900) — stand across the red gateway of Fatehpuri Masjid. Meghraj’s lassi comes without trappings. A mix of yoghurt, sugar and nothing else, the lassi is so thick with malai that it is served with a spoon. The adjacent Amritsari lassi stall offers an equally fulfilling option, but in a variety of flavours — mango, rose, banana, saffron, cumin, often garnished with chopped almonds.
Of course, such drinks are served in expensive south Delhi restaurants also, but the settings there are too sanitised. In Chandni Chowk, as you take the sip, the chilled milky relief of the lassi calms the tired nerves that inevitably come with an excursion to the Walled City. And the sights and sounds of Fatehpuri Masjid’s crowded T-junction – one lane going to Khari Baoli, the other to Lal Kuan and the third to Red Fort – is forever preserved along with the memory of the sweet tanginess of the lassi you are sipping. Later all that you will need to evoke Old Delhi in your mind’s eye will be the remembered taste of that yoghurt drink.