Remember that story about the fox who tried to jump up to get some grapes hanging from a tree, and couldn’t reach them? And how he consoled himself by telling himself that they were probably sour anyways? Well, for a long time down in my part of South India, the only grapes we did get at the markets, when we could find them, were truly of the mouth puckering sour kind. They were invariably full of pips too, and quite expensive to boot.
It’s only been in the past 10 years or so that we have been getting sweet grapes and of the seedless variety, and they’re quite affordable too. They seem to be getting sweeter every consecutive year too. From being someone who wouldn’t touch grapes, I’ve now turned into an absolute fan of them.
I’ve been buying them regularly this season and have just been eating my way through them. It has started getting warm once again, and a couple of days back I decided turn some of the grapes into a Lassi which is just the perfect thing for this heat. A Lassi is basically a sweet, creamy and chilled yogurt drink that is watered down with either milk or water and invariably topped with a froth that comes from using whole milk or full fat yogurt. I prefer using skim milk and low fat yogurt because it is what the doctor has ordered.
So what’s a Purple Cow Shake and how different is it from a Lassi? For one thing, a Lassi is Indian while the Purple Cow Shake is an American invention. They’re both made with grapes, fresh for the Lassi and usually grape juice concentrate for the Purple Cow Shake, and milk but the Lassi also has yogurt in it while the Purple Cow Shake is made with ice cream instead.
I’ve no idea why the American drink is called a Purple Cow, unless the purple refers to the colour of grapes and the cow has something to do with the milk and ice cream. It turns out that this seems to have been a highly popular children’s’ drink from the 1930s and 40s in the US. American writer Gelett Burgess did write a nonsense rhyme called the Purple Cow that had no connection at all to the milkshake, and went, “I never saw a Purple Cow, I never hope to see one; But I can tell you, anyhow, I’d rather see than be one.”
A strangely purple coloured milk drink might not be a choice that a lot of grown-ups might make, but I think it’s a great way to get children have their quota of calcium and fruit. This also makes a interesting children’s party drink.
There’s really no recipe as such for this glass of purple goodness and all you need to do is blend together about a cup each of chilled yogurt, chilled milk, seedless black grapes and a little powdered sugar until smooth and frothy. Serve immediately. This should be enough to make two tall glasses of Black Grape Lassi. Oh, and Lassi is a drink that’s meant to be enjoyed by the tall glassful so put away those short fat glasses.
Should you want to make a Purple Cow Shake instead, just blend a cup each of frozen grape juice concentrate (I’d say fresh grapes would be better), milk and vanilla ice cream till smooth. Pour into tall glasses and enjoy!
I’m dedicating this “no recipe” post to my friends Sravanthi, Lata, Sanjeeta and Harini in memory of the fun vacation we spent together and one particular conversation that we laughed over so much, and mostly because one needs friends like them in one’s life.