Food Discussion Question! Is Lassi a Beverage or a Dessert, and Other Vital Questions

Happiness week continues! All light and silly and dumb. And along those lines, this post. Which was inspired by a dinner table conversation last night that got quite heated between me and my parents. Oooo, maybe I should have a whole theme Food Day today?

Just to be clear, food is a living changing thing, just like language, so I don’t want any of those “well, according to my dictionary/cookbook this is The Rule”. How does it exist in reality as we live in the world today?

Question 1: Is Bacon a Meat, or a Condiment?

When planning a meal, do you think of Bacon more often as the main protein course, or as something you crumble up and put on top of other things? My mother brought this up and was firmly on the “condiment” side. I feel like if you have, say, a breakfast of fruit cup and bacon strips, then bacon would be considered a “meat” just like ham or sausage or any other breakfast option. My Mom argues that it has too much fat and in that meal, the fruit cup would be the main course and the bacon would be a garnish. As I said, it got quite heated.

Spaghetti Carbonara - Damn Delicious
This started because Mom made a delicious Spaghetti Carbanaro for dinner and referred to it as a meal without meat, and then we started debating whether it was a meal without meat or if the little bacon flecks counted.

Question 2: Is Lassi a Beverage or a Dessert?

Hear me out! I know your first instinct is “beverage”, but do you ever really drink Lassi with the meal? At least for me, it is the thing I save until the end as a palate cleanser and treat. Or something I have without a meal at all, as a special thing all by itself. Like a dessert!!!!

Gourmet Mom on-the-Go: Mango Lassi & Recipe Contest
I feel like once whipped cream is an option, it’s a dessert. But what about when whipped cream isn’t an option?

Question 3: Can You Eat Parathas Alone and Call it a Meal?

I just had really really good Parathas for the first time in years, and I ate them plain and they were delicious and that was my whole lunch. But, is that correct? Like, is a Paratha in the Naan category, where you would only eat it as a starch that goes with the real dish? Or is it something you eat by itself sometimes for a light meal? When you have Paratha and yogurt, would you say “I had yogurt for lunch and also Paratha”, or would you say “I had Paratha for lunch and also yogurt”?

Garlic Paratha Recipe - NDTV Food
Additional question: where do you draw the line between a western style savory eggless pancake and a paratha?

Question 4: Is Ghee a Topping or an Ingredient?

Would you think of Ghee as something extra that is separate from the dish, or is it just a flavoring you can put on a dish? Is it more like yogurt, or more like fennel? Can I legitimately say “I didn’t just have Naan for dinner, I had Ghee too”? Or is that silly?

Organic Ghee – JJ Distributions
Is it silly to say “topping” just because it is a solid?

And of course, if you have any similar questions to debate, please bring them up! This is a forum for us all to debate vital questions such as this.


31 thoughts on “Food Discussion Question! Is Lassi a Beverage or a Dessert, and Other Vital Questions

  1. Here are my Indian opinions –
    1. Bacon – as a vegetarian, any specks of bacon is considered meat. A carbonara is not a “meatless” meal.
    2. Lassi – I personally hate it and never drink it. But in India, people drink Lassi during the day on its own…or it with meals…but it is generally considered a drink…or maybe a dessert substitute..but not “dessert”.
    3. Paranthas – there are many different types of paranthas. The picture you posted (Plain paranthas) are flavorless…they are meant to be eaten as an accompaniment to some curry/vegetable. You say I had “Paneer Masala with Paranthas for lunch”. But then you have flavored parathas (fenugreek, dill etc.) and stuffed paranthas (paneer, potato, cauliflower) that are treated as the “main dish”. You eat them with pickles and yogurt. And you say I had “Paneer Paranthas for lunch” the pickle and yogurt accompaniments don’t need to be mentioned…they are a given.
    4. Ghee- It is a luxury cooking fat and a luxury condiment. You typically don’t mention it unless you want to emphasize it. So a restaurant might write on their menu – we only use Desi Ghee – to show their quality. Sometimes when you are ordering dosa in a restaurant you get the option – regular dosa or ghee dosa – where the ghee dosa will be more expensive. But its generally strange to mention it in conversation – like you never say “I had Pasta cooked in olive oil for lunch today”. Though you could emphasize it if the occasion demanded – the pasta I had for lunch was excellent because I used my best olive oil…


    • Okay, you just confused me even more with the Paranthas! Stuffed versus Plain makes sense to me, because there’s more vitamins and calories and stuff added. But if I have savory Paranthas, so with a little bit of fenugreek added, even though that has no nutritional difference, the mere flavor difference would make it into a dish to be eaten on its own and not an accompaniment?

      With ghee, using your olive oil comparison, I have had pasta dishes that were truly just pasta and olive oil, or more often bread and olive oil. But that would be really really good olive oil that has a flavor of its own you want to savor and not just cook off. So would that be the line? Super super high quality Ghee is something you want to taste instead of have hidden among other flavors, and therefore saying “Ghee Dosa” means “Dosa cooked with Ghee of such a high quality that it adds flavor to the dish”?

      (with your vegetarian point, I have ABSOLUTELY known people who would say “the pasta is vegetarian, it’s just got a little bit of bacon in it”. Which I guess would mean for those people, the identity of “meat” depends on quantity and if it is the main ingredient in a dish. And if you have spent time in non-urban areas of America, I am guessing you have also dealt with this kind of frustrating conversation)

      On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 10:11 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • 1. Okay so there is a grey area with the flavored paranthas…sometimes they can be eaten just on their own with pickle and yogurt…sometimes they are eaten as an accompaniment to something…no real rules here…

        2. Yes, because Ghee has such a specific taste you want to taste and enjoy the flavor of ghee…its also eaten for its Ayurvedic health benefits..and sometimes some spices taste better if they are bloomed in ghee…you can also fry with Ghee (if you want really tasty samosa/pakora and don’t care about the cost). And like Olive oil it has variation in qualities…so when the restaurant says Ghee Dosa…I don’t assume “best quality ghee”…I think I like the taste of Ghee so it will taste better than the plain oil Dosa (and cost more). My sister absolutely abhors the smell of Ghee…so she refuses to eat anything cooked in Ghee (no matter the quality).

        3. Yes, I have heard that argument that a little bit of bacon/or chicken stock is still vegetarian…and honestly I am not too strict so in a pinch, I will eat the carbonara…just eat around the bacon…but my family is way more strict so they will not eat the food if even a speck of meat touched their plate…

        Liked by 1 person

        • And now I just really really want Paranthas. Which makes this discussion into the realm of the Real instead of Theoretical. If I only have in my house flour, oil, and yogurt, can I make Paranthas? So that would be flavorless plain paranthas, eaten with plain yogurt. Or would it be better to throw in one of the random spices I have (Basil, cumin, garlic powder, and chives) and make it flavored paranthas and therefore a meal?

          Liked by 1 person

  2. As a Polish/Italian I can only talk about bacon and it’s meat. Even if you use a little like in carbonara it’s the becon that gives it the taste so you can’t pretend it’s not there. E.g I as a Catolic can’t eat it on Friday, because it’s meat.

    Olive oil is never mentioned, except when you have Spaghetti aglio e olio (garlic & oil) because in Italy it’s obvious there will be olive oil in every pasta you cook. Others oils are not permitted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • THANK YOU! That was my point, even if bacon has little nutritional value, and is a very small amount versus the pasta or whatever, it’s still the most important ingredient.

      My sister had an Italian roommate for a while, and she couldn’t get over the flavor when my sister cooked vegetables. Which we eventually realized was because she had only had vegetables with olive oil, not butter. Even stuff like green beans were only served with oil, which blows my mind.

      On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 11:05 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • In Poland we season boiled vegetables with butter and bread crumbs and in my opinion it’s the only right way. I still not convinced to eat it only with olive oil. It’s hard to be butter and tea lover in Italy. Nobody understand my passion.

        Liked by 1 person

        • you can’t have tea in Italy???? That’s terrible! I like olive oil and fancy coffee fine, but I can’t survive without my bread and butter and tea being available to me.

          Also, buttered noodles! Not all the time, but at least some of the time, I would like them to be an option.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It’s almost impossible to find a good and tasty tea here in Sicily. I always buy a lot in Poland and bring it with me. I can give up sweets, chocolate, everything but not tea

            Liked by 1 person

          • Family story: when my sister was a toddler, maybe about one and a half, my Mom was drinking her morning tea and she saw my sister wobbling at the top of the stairs and thought “she is going to tumble down the stairs. I could stop her, but then I’d have to drop my tea….” I think you can see how this ended.

            On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 12:42 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


            Liked by 1 person

          • I cannot live without my tea either. I had an Italian roomate in college who only associated tea with being sick, so if she drank tea is had some sort of liquorish/fennel-esq ingredient in it. I am particularly sensitive to that smell so I guess I could understand why she would only drink it if she was forced to when she was sick. And if she were ever to have black tea, she wanted it very dark with lemon. None of this sounded appealing to me.

            Liked by 1 person

          • My college roommate was desi and kept trying to get me to try her mother’s homemade Masala tea, and I resisted strongly. I like strong black tea that tastes like tea, not a million other spices. Ashamed to say, I still feel that way. I will drink chai (which I think of as tea boiled with milk), but I won’t do Masala tea in water.

            On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 1:23 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


            Liked by 1 person

          • @Filmikudhi Yes! It’s what I always hear: “we only drink tea when we are sick”. So it’s not strange that even in the big shops the are only few types of tea and one worst than other.

            Liked by 2 people

  3. First, I love this post. I am so many thoughts. My prespective comes from an Indian-American non-vegetarian.

    1. Bacon – I agree with Shreyans that if it is being served in a dish to most Indian vegetarians then it is meat. If I were serving anything to an Indian vegetarian, unless I know their perferences well in advance, I would let them know that this dish contains bacons or chicken broth, or egg whites, or anything other meat product for example. Personally, if I am serving it to non-vegetarians, then I think it is a condiment. It is either served as an addition (e.g., pasta, cassarole, omlette) or served on the side (e.g., eggs, waffles, pancakes). If you are having just a fruit cup and bacon, then you are having two side dishes as your main dish.

    2. Lassi in most contexts is a drink. There are many different kinds of lassis – mango, salty, ginger, mint, jeera (cumin) etc. It can be had on it’s own or as part of a meal. However, for someone like you who has it at the end of a meal it makes total sense to consider it dessert because dessert is by definition a sweet something you have at the end of the meal, but in Indian context, I would be hard pressed to believe anything would call lassi dessert by itself.

    3. Parathas – This gets dicey to me. I agree with Shreyans here, that whether it is a meal versus an accompaniment is easier to distinguish when it comes to whole stuffed versus plain parathas. Stuffed is likely a meal you can eat with yogurt, pickle, and/or chutney, whereas whole plain is generally eaten with someone else. I think the rule gets blurry when it comes to seasoned paratha like methi (fenugreek) paratha because that can be eaten on its own or with something. It gets even more blurry when it comes to dishes like Kothu Parotta where the paratha is mixed with veggies/egg/meat, and then served with a vegetarian or meat curry on the side. To me, in this particular case, the Kothu Parotta is the main meal served with a side of curry.

    4. Ghee – I think ghee can be a topping or an ingredient. If it is a curry cooked with ghee like you would oil or even added at the end by tempering spices in ghee (tadka), then it is an ingredient. However, if for example, a paratha or daal (lentils) is topped with ghee then it is a topping. In this context it would be like topping a waffle with maple syrup.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1. I think I can be easier with bacon as a side dish than as a condiment. If I have waffles and bacon, the bacon isn’t an addition directly to the waffles, it’s its own thing off to the side of the plate.

      2. One of my regular sweet shops was out of mango lassi once and convinced me to try salty lassi and it is WEIRD!!! Weird weird weird! I do not like those two flavors together. I would not call that a dessert or a beverage, I would call it a “think I do not want to try again”. Almond lassi I like, and that I could have with the meal, it was less thick and sweet (at least, the mix I had).

      3. Now that I think about it, the West has a similar issue with bread and it has never seemed strange to me. There is thick brown bread or similar that you would eat as a snack alone, or as a side dish. And then there is sandwich bread that you would only eat with a sandwich. And the in between breads that are tasty enough to eat alone, but bland enough to be used in a sandwich as well. Anyway, this whole thing has inspired me to try making Paranthas. I’ve tried dosa in the past and it was a pan-ruining disaster. Naan obviously not since I don’t have the right oven. The air bubble open flame one is terrifying and clearly impossible. But Paratha looks like a combination of frying pancakes, which I can do, and rolling out pie crust, which I can do.

      4. Is ghee ever put out on the table? So you can help yourself and put as much or as little as you want? I feel like that would be a definite condiment/ingredient sign.

      On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 1:13 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • Lassis – Ha. We have completely opposite tastes. I LOVE salty lassi or any other savory lassi. I am generally vehemently against sweet lassis. I may have one sip but nothing more than that. But then again, I generally don’t like anything sweet.

        Parathas – I haven’t made parathas in a long time but if you decide to make one and have a recipe, I would be more than happy to look at it and give you my thoughts. If I make parathas anytime soon, I will share my recipe as well.

        Ghee – yes, ghee can be left out on the table (like salt and pepper) so people can help themselves to it and put as much or as little as they want on their food.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I was going to say I just don’t like savory with yogurt, but then I remembered that I love Raita. So that theory doesn’t work. Anyway, salty lassi, BAH! WRONG!

          For Parathas, I think I have Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook at home, and I like her acting, so her Parathas should be good too 🙂 What I am more interested in is the process. Looks like you ball it, let it rest, break it into multiple smaller balls, rest again, then roll out, fold over, roll again, fold again, and finally fry with a little oil? That’s the kind of cooking I like, where you are tactile in there with the stuff, feeling when it is ready. Plus, with balling and kneading and rolling, that lets you feel and correct if your proportions were wrong, before you have cooked the thing and it is too late.

          Ooo! I could get real Ghee, and then make my parathas, and then put Ghee on afterwards as much as I wanted!

          On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 1:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          • Madhur Jaffrey is always a good one to rely on. Also, you know you can easily make ghee at home. It is way better. Take unsalted butter and cook it on a thin pan on medium until it boils, then skim the foam, and continue cooking for about 30 minutes or so and then let it cool down. Strain everything bit the brown stuff at the bottom.

            Also, when I was little my grandmother and mother would make fresh white butter (safad makkhan) from the cream they would skim off of the whole milk and curd and nothing beats that on a paratha. Now I am going to have to figure out how to make that at home.

            Liked by 1 person

          • One of our produce box deliveries included homemade butter and it is sooooo good. Like, you don’t realize butter can actually have a flavor until you try real butter.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Once again you deliver and ask the really important questions. Now I only need to find the time to answer them.

    1). Bacon. In Germany, we don’t really have the concept of “condiments”. The dictionary translates it the same as “spices”. So obviously bacon isn’t that.

    But I ran into a similar problem recently when calculating my ecological footprint. It’s atrocious, in part because I do have to count the single slices on my sandwich as “meat or sausage”.

    There is a grey area with the bacon, though. While your Carbonara definitely wouldn’t count as vegetarian for me, I don’t think I would call it a meat dish, either. Why can nothing be simple these days? ;-p

    Oh, and my wife just added: Bacon is a dessert. Which leads me to …

    2) Lassi. If I can get a plain or even salty one, I may use it to moderate some spicy dish. I don’t think I’d do that with a mango lassi anymore. That’s more something to drink as a snack like a milkshake or after the meal. I’d still call it a beverage, though.

    I once tried something called a madrassi lassi, with crumbled curry leaves. Once …

    3) Parathas. Since I know Mujhse Dosti Karoge almost by heart, this had me trying to remember whether Hrithik called gobi ke parathe his favorite dish, food, meal or whatever. Seems like we have established these stuffed parathas as a meal already, so I have nothing more to add.

    4). Ghee. See, here we run into the problem of different culinary traditions again. Why can’t a topping be solid? I guess a topping isn’t a German concept either. Anyways, so far I’ve only used ghee as an ingredient.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 1) “Condiments” would be mustard. Like, the Mustard you dip things in, not just the dry spice. So bacon is more than a spice, but still something you add primarily for flavoring, not on its own. If we believe in the “condiment” theory.

      2) Aha! you open up a new realm of inquiry! Is a milkshake a dessert or a beverage? Menus seem to disagree about this, half the time it is in the “beverage” section and half the time in the “dessert”.

      3) I’m digging into my German food knowledge, and the only comparison I can come up with for Ghee is mustard again. Or Syrup I guess? Oh! Whipped cream! Like you would have it on a struedel, where it comes separately and you add as much as you want (or just eat the bowl of whipped cream as it’s own thing and ignore the rest. Not that I have ever done that). Would you call that whipped cream an ingredient, a topping, or a side?

      On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 3:05 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  5. 1) Bacon is a meat, but not a meal. I would never eat bacon along as my main meal, but maybe on the side with some scrambled eggs and toast, or on top of a carbonara. I think to consider it anything is misusing definitions.

    2) I consider lassi it more like you, a sweet treat, sort of like a smoothie or a milkshake. Not quite a dessert, but I would never want to wash down my meal with a lassi.

    And I’ve never had parathas, or ghee on its own, so I don’t think I can answer the last two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You should have parathas and ghee! Now I am picturing you bringing this up in class and being drowned in homemade offerings from your students’ parents.

      On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 3:08 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • My experience with Indian food is very limited. That happens with a lot of restaurants/cuisines–once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. I remember bringing up gulab jamun to the students, which I adore, and they were split, but also suggested jalebi, and something else I can remember.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Raas Malai? Or Kheer? Those are the kind of staple desserts in my experience, every restaurant/buffett has them. My personal favorite is Jalabi, or Kheer if it is good Kheer.

          I’m no one to talk, I won’t even try gefilte fish!

          On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 4:35 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

  6. Bacon and eggs on toast (we have poached eggs) is a meal – breakfast once a week although I’m supposed to be on a low-sodium diet so haven’t had bacon for a few months.

    In our Indian restaurants Mango Lassi is in the drinks section of the menu and I have had one with a meal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, but! If you just had bacon with toast on the side, would that be a meal? Or would that be two sides?

      On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 8:58 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  7. 1. Bacon is a meat because BLTs. In a BLT, the bacon is clearly taking the place of a lunch meat, not a condiment like mayonnaise. That’s all, pretty sure I’ve definitely settled this argument. You’re welcome.

    This reminds me of my first trip to Spain in the late 90s, everything we ordered that was vegetarian had tuna in it. Is tuna a fish or a condiment? Or a vegetable?

    2. Lassi is a beverage because I allow my children to drink it with their meal, and I would never allow them to eat ice cream with their meal.

    3. and 4. defer to the experts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you may have indeed had the definitive answer on the bacon question. That’s pretty clear.

      On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 9:34 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ll skip over bacon. But my views on the rest from the Indian micro-sub-culture i come from

    Paratha can be a meal but it’s common to say what you ate it with, if you did. Eg if it’s stuffed one will usually say i ate aloo (potato) parantha, if it’s plain it will usually be paratha sabzi (parantha with vegetable curry as accompaniment) or with achar (pickle). These are especially useful when instructing someone or placing an order. Eg for dinner tonight, let’s prepare for aloo parantha and make sure we have fresh yoghurt.

    In recounting it to someone I’ll usually mention the stars of the meal or how i experienced my meal – sometimes it’s a shorthand of saying one thing, other times it’s more descriptive.

    In the Indian heat, Lassi is definitely a drink but can also be looked at as a treat. I personally hated sweet lassi so i always had the savoury version with salt, pink salt and roasted cumin powder. And then in Punjab it’s very rich and fatty but I would dilute mine to make it lighter and more refreshing.

    Ghee is an ingredient. It is a condiment only in particular circumstances – on top of a roti, adding to food on top especially for children or anyone who needs to build up their health. Usually in small quantities and should be pure and fresh. It is also Used as / in medicine in ayurveda so there’s that too.

    It is often used for tempering to add more flavour on top. In which case it’s an ingredient that’s playing a role in a condiment. Eg with red chilli powder, mustard seeds etc.

    Hope that helps!


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