Thandai is a special, milk based soft drink prepared for Holi and is loaded with nuts, spices, rose petals and sugar.
What is Holi?
Holi is a festival of colors, celebrated all across India. However, celebrations varies from region to region. Regardless of the region, a common element is playing with colors and applying color to friends and family.
In many western and north Indian states, food plays an important element in celebrating this Spring festival. Apart from an array of snacks and sweets, thandai with or without bhang is a quintessential drink for Holi.
What is Thandai?
Thandai is a milk based drink. It is a sweet and spicy milkshake with lots of nuts, with or without bhang. Bhang thandai is mildly intoxicated. These are the only two Holi food/drinks I knew about when growing up, although tasted neither until recently.
Cashews, melon seeds, almonds, pistachios, poppy seeds, cardamom, peppercorns, saffron, rose petals, sugar and milk are the basic ingredients for thandai. Addition of poppy seeds and rose petals enhances the flavor of the drink but skip these two ingredients if you can not source them.
How to Prepare?
Thandai is loaded with nuts, spices, sugar and rose petals. Skip rose petals if you can’t source is it. Full recipe in the recipe card.
- Soak nuts and grind together with spices to a fine paste.
- Cook the paste in boiling milk.
- Refrigerate the drink until ready to serve. Addition of poppy seeds to the drink is quite refreshing.
Though this is a special drink for Holi, you can easily incorporate it into your daily diet. If doing so, I recommend cutting back or skiping cashews as these are the only nuts that are rich in calories.
Other common Holi recipes besides thandai are kachori, dahi vada, baked namak para, pakoda, ras malai to name a few. Dahi vada recipe on the blog is South Indian version and for a North Indian version, skip the tempering and sprinkle some jeera powder, chaat masala, chili powder on the dahi vada before serving.
Source: Sanjeev Kapoor
Detailed, Printable Recipe
- Grinder or a Blender
- 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 inch 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, preferably 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. Start with about ⅔ cup of sugar, taste and adjust 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 a couple of minutes.
- Taste thandai and adjust sugar.
- Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours before serving. I served it as is but if one wishes, strain and then serve.
- Everyday Drink – Though this s a Holi special, you can easily incorporate this drink into your daily diet. Cut back or skip cashews as these are the only nuts that are rich in calories and you do not want to consume so many on a daily basis.
- Nutrition – listed are approximate values.
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