Recipe: Sara Bir's Pawpaw Lassi

This smoothie-lassi hybrid uses the simple harmony of pawpaw and dairy to full effect.

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Monthly
Pawpaw fruit

The approach of fall means local pawpaw fruit will soon be ripe and ready to eat. In Columbus Monthly’s September issue, Marietta, Ohio-based chef and food writer Sara Bir provides guidance for finding, foraging and eating pawpaws, the largest edible fruit native to the U.S. The issue hits newsstands Aug. 30. 

Bir was also kind enough to pass along her recipe for pawpaw lassi, which is excerpted  from “The Pocket Pawpaw Cookbook,” released last year by Belt Publishing and reprinted below with permission from the author. 

“You have worked hard for your pawpaws and deserve a refreshing reward. Here it is,” Bir writes. “This is thicker than an Indian lassi, more like a smoothie-lassi hybrid. The simple harmony of pawpaw and dairy is employed to full effect here. Instead of yogurt, I prefer thick and rich full-fat buttermilk. I’ve seen this in the store labeled as ‘country-style’ or ‘Bulgarian-style.’ You can substitute plain yogurt (preferably full-fat).” 


Servings: 2 


  • 1 cup pawpaw pulp
  • 1 cup full-fat buttermilk 
  • 1/4 cup cold water, plus more as needed 
  • 2-3 teaspoons granulated sugar 
  • Pinch ground mace, nutmeg or cumin 


In a bowl or large glass measuring cup, combine the pawpaw pulp, buttermilk, water and 2 teaspoons of the sugar and whisk until combined. (You can use a blender instead, if you want the texture to be totally smooth.) 

Taste and add more sugar if needed. You’re aiming for the lassi to be very balanced: sweet, tart, creamy, fruity, all that. If it’s too thick to be pourable, thin it out with a few tablespoons of water at a time. 

Garnish with a sprinkling of mace, nutmeg or (if you’re feeling edgy) cumin and serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers for up to a day.