My kingdom for a mango lassi


Not all Saturdays are meant for carousing in your finest dancing pants. No, some Saturdays are meant for daylong home improvement projects in your foulest sweating pants.

If you’re lucky, you live within walking distance to Tiffins India Cafe, where the curry and mango lassis flow and no one will judge your flannel pants and grimy tank top.

Tiffins needs no real build up. It’s good. We pretty much all know it’s good because it’s been around since 2011, and we here at Boulder Weekly have said it’s good on more than one occasion during those five years.

Tiffins started off serving up home-style vegetarian street food from southern India in a relatively sterile-looking environment — white walls and functional black seating. But over the years, the little Indian restaurant in The Village Shopping Center on Arapahoe Avenue underwent a makeover that warmed the space with vermilion hues and shifted its menu to include meat and the more familiar — at least to Westerners — northern Indian cuisine, notable for its heavier, creamier consistency.

Despite the facelift, Tiffins remains a humble eatery in the best sense of the term. There is no pretense at Tiffins. Warm colors and stimulating aromas make the space plenty inviting without dipping into the over-the-top opulence of many Indian restaurants. There are no tapestries hanging from the walls, no Moroccan pendants from the ceiling, no hand-carved rosewood screens separating the dining room from the kitchen.

The mango lassi seems to embody the laid-back ethos of Tiffins, served in plastic cups that are available to snag from the cooler at the cash register. They are delicious and unpretentious.

Lassis are Indian yogurt-based drinks, sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, depending on the region.

Sweet lassis — like the mango lassi at Tiffins — are a specialty of the Gujarat region where Tiffins owner, Justin Patel, is from. Gujarati food is primarily vegetarian, and often noted as being the healthiest of all Indian cuisine.

Remind yourself of this as you pull sweet, thick lassi through a straw.

There’s nothing to a lassi, really, just yogurt, a touch of milk, fruit, sugar or honey, and perhaps a bit of cardamom. They are, for all intents and purposes, really thick smoothies.

While Indians often take lassi with their lunch, a Western palette may find the richness of a mango lassi from Tiffins better suited to a dessert than as a beverage accompanying a meal.

That being said, a cool, sweet lassi provides a mighty fine extinguisher to the mouth fire one of Tiffins’ curries can ignite.

And as far as I can tell, lassis are great any time of year, and maybe even better when the weather gets cooler. Their moderately cool temperature and amped-up sweetness are perfect for fall weather and a heartier cold-weather diet.

So, while being within walking distance to Tiffins isn’t totally crucial to the plan, it will help you build up a small calorie deficit to accommodate one of their mango lassis.

Tiffins India Cafe. 2416 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-442-2500.


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