Thandai Recipe (Holi Recipes 2023)
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.
Holi is no fun without good food! Apart from thandai, Malpua, Samosa, Dahi Vada, Gulab Jamun, Aloo Tikki & many kinds of chaat snacks are enjoyed during this festival of colors.
How to make Thandai (Stepwise Photos)
1. Add 20 almonds, 10 cashews & 15 pistachios to a bowl and rinse them well. Pour water and soak them for a minimum of 4 hours. Alternately you may soak them in hot water for 1 hour. At the same time soak 1½ tablespoons poppy seeds and 1½ tablespoons melon seeds (magaz) in another bowl with little water.
Later peel the skin of the almonds and rinse all the nuts with fresh water. Add the soaked and blanched nuts to a blender/grinder.
2. Drain water from the poppy seeds and magaz seeds. Add them to the grinder. If you do not have a powerful blender then you may soak the poppy seeds separately and make a paste in a mortar & pestle first.
3. Add the following ingredients
- 1½ tablespoon fennel seeds (saunf)
- 4 to 10 black pepper corn (adjust to taste)
- 12 green cardamoms
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 1 pinch saffron (kesar, optional)
- 20 rose petals (or you can alternately use gulkand later like I used)
4. Grind to a coarse paste first. Then pour half cup milk and blend to a smooth paste.
5. The smoother the better. If needed add more milk and blend till smooth.
6. Bring 1 liter (4 cups) milk to a boil in a pot. Add 5 to 6 tablespoons sugar as per your taste.
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. I prefer using a fine strainer for this.
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 add about 1 to 1½ teaspoons to each serving cups. Then pour the chilled thandai & give a good mix.
Garnish thandai with sliced nuts & kesar. If you love the flavors of clay pot, then rest it for at least 45 mins to 1 hour.
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.
Thandai Recipe for Holi
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US 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)
- Add almonds, cashews & pistachios to a bowl. Pour water to immerse and soak them for 4 hours. To quicken this process you can also soak them in hot water for 1 hour. In another small bowl, soak the poppy seeds and lemon seeds too.
- 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.
- Drain the water from melon seeds & poppy seeds. Add them to the same grinder jar along with 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. If you want you may add more milk as needed while blending.
How to make Thandai
- Bring 4 cups of milk to a gentle boil in a pot. Then add sugar and the thandai masala paste we just made. Taste test and adjust the sugar to taste.
- 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/strainer over a pitcher. Pour the thandai and pass it through the filter. Press down the solids to extract all of the milk.
- Add 1 to 1½ teaspoon gulkand to serving glasses and stir in the thandai.
- You can also soak poppy seeds, melon seeds and spices too.
- 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.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
Watch Thandai Video
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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Made a huge batch of this thandai and it turned out so delicious. Chilling it tonight and wondering if it is going to last till the guests arrive. Thank you.
That’s awesome Kiran. Thanks for your time to share back how it turned for you. Happy Holi!!
Loved the recipe. Perfect!
Every recipe that i try of yours is fabulous including the thandai
Thank you so much!
Thank you for the recipe. It turned out very good. Only thing is we don’t have clay serving cups but tastes delicious even without. 😋
Glad to know! Thanks for leaving a comment
Thank you for your delicious recipes, I love the extra details that you add in each of your recipe which is very helpful.
I tried Thandai today, it was heavenly! I did not add any sugar, I just added a few dates to sweeten the drink. Now this is going to be my goto dessert on a regular basis.
Thank you for making cooking easy.
Glad you like the recipes. Love the idea of adding dates.
I want to make Thandai without cashews and pistachios. Can I use 4 tbsps poppy seeds? is that a lot? By mistake I soaked 4 tbsps. Will it taste good. Please reply
Yes it should taste good. 1 tbsp poppy seeds per serving should be fine. That’s how we use in some curries and sweets. Hope this helps
Wow. Looks very yummy. Gonna make it. Thank you for sending.
You are welcome Megha
Hope you enjoy it!