Cardamom and Yogurt Cooler

Pungent black cardamom is tamed by creamy labneh in this refreshing drink.

Cardamom and Yogurt Cooler

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Total Time:
5 mins
2 1/2 cups

Yogurt-based drinks, from Indian lassis to Turkish ayran, Persian doogh, Iraqi Shinna, and Bangladeshi borhani, are popular around the globe. They are beloved for their flavor and the calming anti-inflammatory effect they are said to have on the body, especially after eating spicy food.

The history of yogurt drinks date back centuries. Historians have found evidence of ayran and lassis that date back as far as 1000 BC. Yogurt drinks vary in thickness; some are mixed with flat or carbonated water, while others are simply blended. They can be sweet or savory, and are flavored with spices like saffron, cardamom, or rosewater, or herbs, especially fresh or dried mint. They are also often blended with cucumbers, or with fruit, such as mangoes, strawberries, bananas, and pineapple.

Yogurt drinks are both refreshing and simple to make. While most of these beverages are made by combining staple ingredients like water and salt with the yogurt, this beverage steps it up a notch by using black cardamom, which flavors the yogurt with an earthy, floral flavor and smoky aroma and is balanced by sweet honey and bright citrus. The backbone of this cooling beverage is labneh, a tangy staple yogurt in Middle Eastern cooking. Labneh, or labne, is a yogurt that is strained to remove the majority of its whey; it can be purchased or easily made at home. This results in labneh’s distinctly thicker consistency than other yogurts, making it ideal as a spread or mixed into a drink.


Cardamom-Honey Syrup

  • 2/3 cup honey

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black cardamom


  • 1 cup water

  • 6 tablespoons labneh

  • Lemon zest and ground black cardamom, for garnish


Make the cardamom-honey syrup

  1. Combine honey, 1/3 cup water, and cardamom in a glass jar. Cover with lid, and shake to combine, about 20 seconds. Set aside.

Make the cooler

  1. Combine 1 cup water, labneh, and 3/4 cup cardamom-honey syrup in a blender, and process on low speed until well combined, 10 to 20 seconds. Store in a container in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve over ice, and garnish with lemon zest and additional ground black cardamom.

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