Thandai is a refreshing & cooling Indian beverage mostly made during festivals like HOLI & Maha Shivratri. It is a traditional drink & is much popular in the Northern States of India. This delicious & aromatic coolant is made with nuts, seeds, whole spices and milk.
Homemade thandai is flavorful & delicious than the one made with store bought thandai masala or syrup. Most of these bottled/packed stuff also have additives or preservatives.
If you are new to this drink and wondering what is thandai?
Thandai is a popular North Indian drink made with cooling spices, seeds, nuts, rose petals and milk. The word Thanda translates to cool in Hindi. This beverage is believed to be a coolant as most of the ingredients used have a cooling effect on the body. Hence the name thandai.
This beverage is made by soaking and blending all of the ingredients to a paste. This flavorful paste is stirred with the milk to make thandai.
Almonds, poppy seeds and melon seeds form the base of this paste. Spices like fennel seeds & cardamoms infuse the flavors.
Here are some tips to make a good thandai.
Soaking Nuts: Always soak the nuts well before blending to minimize the wastage. Soaked nuts blend well giving the drink a smoother texture. If you do not have time to soak, then at least keep them in hot water for an hour before blending.
I prefer to use a combination of nuts – almonds, cashews and pistachios. But you can also substitute one for the other.
Poppy seeds is one of the key ingredient used to make thandai. If you live in a country where it is not sold, then just replace them with a few cashews. You will get the same creamy taste.
Spices like cardamoms, fennel seeds, cinnamon and black pepper are most commonly used. You may skip black pepper if you do not prefer any warming spices.
Saffron can be skipped or reduced here but we are so much used to the flavors so I always prefer to use it.
Make ahead: It is best to prepare this a night before you intend to serve it as the flavors are better infused.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 4½ cups milk (1 liter plus half cup)
- 20 almonds
- 10 cashews (substitute with 10 almonds)
- 15 pistachios (substitute with 5 to 6 almonds)
- 1½ tablespoon melon seeds (magaz)
- 1½ tablespoon poppy seeds (substitute with 8 cashews)
- 1½ tablespoon fennel seeds
- 12 green cardamoms
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 4 to 10 black pepper (adjust to taste)
- 5 to 6 tablespoons sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1 pinch saffron (optional)
- 20 rose petals or 4 to 6 tsps of gulkand
- 2 tablespoons sliced nuts for garnish
- 6 Ice cubes (optional for serving)
How to make the recipe
- Add almonds, cashews & pistachios to a bowl. Pour water and soak them for 4 hours. To quicken this process you can also soak them in hot water for 1 hour.
- Peel the almond skin and add them to a blender jar along with cashews and pistachios. You can also rub off the pistachios to remove the skin easily.
- Add melon seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, cardamoms, cinnamon, black pepper, rose petals (optional) and saffron to the blender jar.
- Blend all of these to a coarse paste. Then pour half cup milk and blend to a very smooth paste.
- Bring 4 cups of milk to a boil in a pot. Then add sugar and the thandai masala paste.
- Turn off the stove and stir well to incorporate the ground paste well with the milk.
- Cover this and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Resting overnight gives the best flavors.
- Place a filter over a pitcher. Pour the thandai and pass it through the filter. Press down the solids to extract all of the milk.
- Add gulkand to serving glasses and stir in the thandai.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
- You can also soak poppy seeds, melon seeds and spices.
- Some blenders don’t really break down the poppy seeds. Easier way to blend them is to soak and make a paste using a mortar and pestle.
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.
1.Add the soaked and blanched nuts to a blender.
2. Next add poppy seeds and magaz seeds. If you do not have a powerful blender then you may soak the poppy seeds separately and make a paste in a mortar & pestle.
3. Add fennel seeds, black pepper, cardamoms, cinnamon and saffron. If using add the rose petals here.
4. Make a coarse paste first. Then pour milk and blend.
5. The smoother the better. If needed add more milk and blend till smooth.
How to make thandai
6. Bring milk to a boil in a pot. Add sugar.
7. Turn off the stove and add the ground paste and stir well.
8. Let it cool down. Cover and refrigerate for atleast 4 hours to overnight.
9. Give a good mix and filter the thandai.
10. If the nuts are soaked well then all that is left here is only the spices. So no wastage of nuts.
11. We love gulkand in our thandai. So I added them to the serving cups. Then poured the chilled thandai & gave a good mix.
Garnish with sliced nuts. If you love the flavors of clay pot, then rest it for atleast 45 mins to 1 hour.