Masala Chai, Mango Lassi Rank On Top Of World's Best Beverages

Mango lassi tops the list of Top 16 Dairy Beverages in the World by TasteAtlas for 2023-24. Masala chai grabs the second spot in a list of top non-alcoholic drinks
Masala chai is one of the most popular beverages in India
Masala chai is one of the most popular beverages in IndiaSonia Vadlamani/Shutterstock

India has an enduring love affair with masala chai. From railway station stalls to streetside shacks, at home or in a cafe, the popular beverage has held sway over India's palate. In all our memories rooted in our inherent Indianness, tea or chai, especially masala chai, has been an intrinsic part of them all, especially during the monsoon when we have endless cups of masala chai with pakoras. Now masala chai has been given its due status by global cuisine guide TasteAtlas. It has secured the second spot in their rating of the world's top non-alcoholic beverages. Describing the drink, TasteAtlas mentioned that it is made with a combination of sweetened black tea and milk that is spiced with a masala mix—which typically includes cardamom, ground ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and black peppercorns.

India's status as the world's leading tea exporter traces back to its colonial history. Yet, the country's diverse culinary traditions birthed masala chai—a beloved concoction of black tea simmered with milk, sugar, and an array of fragrant spices like ginger, clove, cardamom, and cinnamon. Each Indian household boasts its exclusive masala chai recipe.

India has many variations of tea-based beverages, from Kashmir's nun cha to the simple pleasure of fragrant Darjeeling tea, Assam CTC, and smoky oolong. The popularity of the masala chai transcends all boundaries of states as well as economic class. Each Indian home has its unique masala chai recipe.

The Lassi Rules

The other popular Indian beverage that has made it to TasteAtlas rankings is lassi. Variations of Punjab's favourite beverage have secured multiple positions in TasteAtlas. Mango lassi came in first among the world's top 16 dairy beverages for 2023-24. The traditional Punjabi lassi ranks fourth on the list. Sweet lassi is also ranked - as the fifth finest dairy beverage in the world. That's three titles devoted to lassis in the top dairy beverages in the world.  

Lassi In Amritsar

Among the best places to sample a perfect glass of lassi is Amritsar. Even if lassi is found in almost every small and big city in India, none come close to the ones in the Golden City. This sweet, thick, creamy churned yoghurt beverage is the best fuel one can get. Plus, the generous dollop of malaai on top makes this tall drink an unmissable indulgence. Of the thousand lassi shops in the city, Ahuja Milk Bhandar has been an all-time favourite for the longest time.

The Bhang Lassi

Another variation of Indian lassi is the one made with bhang, available mostly in Rajasthan. Anthony Bourdain encountered the local delicacy while exploring Jaisalmer. Bourdain, whose bestselling book 'Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly' was released in 2000, had visited India several times. Bourdain spent time in several places in the country, showcasing its diverse cuisine and culture throughout multiple tours and shows. For him, this cannabis curd-based drink perfectly complements the breathtaking sunsets over the dunes. The leaves and stems of Indian hemp (Cannabis indica) are ground to make bhang, a traditional intoxicant. It can be taken as a pellet or blended into lassi or thandai.

About TasteAtlas

TasteAtlas is a global guide to traditional recipes, local ingredients, and authentic establishments. It has catalogued over 10,000 foods and beverages, with dozens of thousands still to be explored and mapped. These feature both popular and forgotten tastes and scents from every city, region, and village in the world.

In June 2023, TasteAtlas named Kochi's Paragon restaurant as one of the world's most iconic restaurants. The restaurant ranked 11th among the world's 150 most legendary eateries. And their biryani was declared an iconic dish. In August, they unveiled a collection of the "50 Best Lamb Dishes in the World," in which two Indian creations, rogan josh and galouti kebab, secured the 23rd and 26th positions, respectively.

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