Thandai, Sweet & Spicy Drink for Holi
Holi is a festival of colors, celebrated all across India. The way it is celebrated varies from region to region. Regardless of region, common element is playing with colors, applying to friends and family. In many western and northern Indian states, food is also an important element in celebrating this Spring festival. Apart from array of snacks and sweets, thandai with and without bhang is quintessential drink for Holi. Thandai is a milk based soft drink and bhang thandai is mildly intoxicated. These two drinks are the only two Holi food/drinks I knew about when growing up, although I tasted neither until I made thandai at home couple of days ago.
This year Holi is tomorrow and if one is still looking for a thandai recipe, then here it is. Thandai is a milk based drink loaded with nuts, spices, sugar and rose petals. I didn’t have rose petals on hand and skipped it. Addition of poppy seeds to the drink was quite refreshing.
Thandai was sweet even for my sweet tooth and I would recommend adjusting sugar to taste. Though this is a festive drink, it is easy to prepare and can easily be incorporated into daily diet. If doing so, I would cut back or skip cashews as these are the only nuts that are calorie rich.
Source: Sanjeev Kapoor
- 4 cups or 1 quart Whole Milk (I used 2 cups whole milk and 2 cups 1% milk)
- 12 Cashews, soaked
- 2 tbsp. Melon Seeds, soaked (I substituted with 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds)
- 2 tbsp. Poppy Seeds, soaked
- 16 Whole Almonds, blanched
- 20 Shelled Pistachios, blanched (I used roasted pistachios)
- ⅛ – ¼ tsp. Saffron
- ⅔ – 1 cup Sugar (I used one cup and was a bit too sweet)
- 6 Green Cardamoms
- ½” Cinnamon Stick
- 6 Black Peppercorns
- 14 – 16 Rose Petals (I didn’t use)
- Soak cashews, melon seeds and poppy seeds for at least 1 – 2 hours. I soaked for 2 hours.
- Blanch almonds and pistachios by dropping the nuts in boiling water and cooking for a minute. Drain, run under cold water and peel the skin. For pistachios, rub the nuts between fingers and if there is a thin skin, it will peel off. If not, use it as is.
- Grind together almonds, pistachios, cashews, melon seeds and poppy seeds to a fine paste using some milk. Keep it aside.
- Grind green cardamom, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and rose petals (if using) to a fine powder and keep aside.
- Bring remaining milk to a boil and add saffron.
- When milk boils, add sugar and mix well. Add less sugar, about ⅔ cup, taste and add more to taste.
- Add nuts paste to milk and mix well to incorporate. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
- Add ground spice powder and continue simmering for couple of minutes.
- Taste thandai and adjust sugar.
- Let thandai cool, refrigerate for at least couple of hours before serving. I served it as is but if one wishes, strain and then serve.
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