Ask people where their favourite place in India is and most say “Varanasi”. Then again, others say it’s their least favourite place in India, but however you feel about Varanasi, the Blue Lassi Shop is a welcome haven from the burning bodies, traffic fumes and sacred cow shit.
You might wonder why I’m bothering to write a post about lassi, a yogurt-based drink that’s not at all alcoholic in nature. But the Drinking Traveller’s partial to non-alcoholic drinks too from time to time – especially one as delicious as lassi. I can thank my dad for introducing me to lassi and I can thank his good pal, Ash, for introducing it to him. It makes a fine (and often absolutely neccessary) accompaniment to any hot curry and can also be enjoyed in its own right.
Before visiting Blue Lassi I’d only tried it in three flavours (the classic “sweet”, “sour”/”salt” and, if you’re lucky, “mango” that you’ll find in most good British curry houses) and thought that was the extent of it…
…until I stepped in Blue Lassi and took a look at the menu.
I counted 83 flavours and varieties of lassi – each one made fresh by hand right in front of you – with plenty of opportunity to mix and match to create your own blend. (This also doesn’t include the notorious bhang lassi – listed on menus around the country as a “Special Lassi” and made from hash – and the various concoctions thereof.)
I could give you directions, a map and even the address, but it probably wouldn’t help you in Varanasi. Just head for the old city and the burning ghats, delve into the labyrinth of alleyways and you’ll soon pick up signs for Blue Lassi, which has to be the most well-signposted shop in Varanasi.
Blue Lassi is a TripAdvisor favourite and long-standing entry in Lonely Planet, so there’s a constant flow of travellers coming in and out.
What makes Blue Lassi special is that it’s been here for three generations. This guy (known in India as a Lassi Wallah) sits there making lassi in the same spot his father once did, and his father before him. In the shop there are pictures of Old Grandpa Lassi, who started the whole thing, as well as heartfelt messages and photos left by travellers from all over the world.
The finished product, garnished with all the trimmings and served in a traditional clay bowl, makes Blue Lassi well worth the visit. I had blueberry and coconut and it made the lassi back home look like a glass of piss.
Any fan of lassi, Indian food, or in fact anyone with taste buds should go here!