Basil, Mango & Coconut Lassi

June 12, 2014

This week for #5days5ways it’s BASIL! Sweet basil, how I wish I could be lulled by your summer scent all year. If you’re a gardener or giving it a go this summer, basil is one of the most satisfying seeds to plant. It isn’t fussy for attention, and is one of the first herbs to brighten the soil with its tender green leaves. Don’t be fooled, it will quickly become a bush and you’ll run out of ice trays for stocking up on pesto well before October!

Now this recipe truly has a Frisch Twist! I was hooked on the thought of mango lassis, a refreshing yogurt-based drink served in India. My eyes also twinkle at the site of sun-orange and grass green on the same plate, and I began to wonder if the flavors of mango and basil dance as beautifully as their colors. So I tried it, and the results were devastatingly good.

This recipe could not be easier, and I decided to make it dairy-free (on account of running out of yogurt) by substituting my milk base with coconut milk. Hey, it’s a superfood, so I’m not complaining! This is the perfect morning drink to start your day with an energetic, refreshing boost. Pair this with Emma Silverman’s Quick Morning Yoga Warm-Up and you’ll be glowing!

Or, have this for a healthy, crowd-pleasing dessert, spiked with a splash of rum and a sprinkle of toasted pistachios.
Emma Frisch Basil, Mango & Coconut Lassi Recipe

Basil for growing gardeners

If you’re striving desperately to be a guilt-free gardener like I am this year, just start simple. Start with basil, and watch it grow. You can order seeds for freebie from Groundswell International, an organization I helped co-found while living in Ecuador. They are planting seeds of change every day. I cannot say enough praise about the work they do to support small-scale family farmers in the U.S and around the world.  (Read “6 Questions with Emma Frisch” to hear more about how I became involved with Groundswell and my recommendations for anyone looking to be a part of their local food movement.)

How to store basil

Basil likes water and shrivels from the cold. Keep basil stems in a small cup of water on the kitchen counter, preferably near light. It will last much longer, and maybe even start to grow roots and grow! If you put it in the fridge, the leaves will begin to blacken and the flavor and aroma will be dampened by the cold.

How to cook with basil

Basil is delicate and must be treated gently. It doesn’t like to be chopped – that also kills the flavor and turns the leaves from green to brown. If you want to use small pieces of basil in your dish, tear it with your hands. Otherwise, use the leaves whole to flavor sauces and make simple syrup (recipe below).
Emma Frisch Basil, Mango & Coconut Lassi Ingredient


Basil, Mango & Coconut Lassi

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The basil in this drink comes in the form of Basil Simply Syrup, which is essentially basil leaves steeped in sugar water. It’s a marvelous thing to have on-hand in your refrigerator. We add it to sparkling water with lemon for a refreshing drink, or mix it with gin and muddled blueberries for cocktails. It would also be heavenly poured over coconut ice cream!

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x



Basil Simple Syrup

  • 2 handfuls fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar or 3/4 cup honey


  • 2 whole mangos, peeled and coarsely cut
  • 2 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1/4 cup toasted pistachios, for garnish


Basil Simple Syrup

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then remove it from the stovetop. If using honey, you can add the honey to a pyrex measuring cup and add 1 cup of boiled water from a kettle, stirring until dissolved.
  2. Add the basil leaves to the simple syrup, submerging them in the liquid. Cover with a lid. Steep for as little as 15 minutes, or as long as 1 hour (the flavor grows stronger with time).
  3. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or colander, or, remove the leaves with your hands and squeeze out the syrup. Store in a jar in the refrigerator until ready to use.


  1. Add the mango, coconut milk, and lime juice to the bowl of a food processor or blender Whiz until smooth.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of the basil simple syrup and blend again. Taste and continue adding simple syrup until you’ve reached your desired flavor.
  3. If desired, scatter toasted pistachios on top.

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  1. Hi Emma,

    Thank you for this mango coconut lassi. I do not want to use 1 cup of cane sugar. In fact I do not want to use cane sugar. Do you have any other alternatives to offer. Also lassi is typically made from yogurt. Now adding lime to coconut milk- are we aiming here for the yogurt to form- not really I guess- as there is no yogurt culture added. Your thoughts on this will be appreciated. 🙂 Thanks.

    1. Post

      Hi Joyie! Thank you for your message. I’ve updated the recipe so that there is an option with honey. Correct, you are not aiming for yogurt to form. It’s a “mock” lassi. You’re welcome to replace the coconut milk with yogurt! I’d love to hear how this variation turns out for you. Cheers!

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