Thandai/ Spiced almond milk

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Thandai is one of the famous refreshing north Indian drinks. It is prepared for Holi (spring festival) this year falling on March 20th , and also as an offering to Lord Shiva during Mahashivarati, (Great Night of Shiva ). On the day of Shivarathri, people fast, as well as keep a vigil during the night, and pray to get blessings from God Shiva. 
Thandai  means” cooling drink”  and are of two types, when it made with mixture of almond, ,pistachio, cashew nut, fennel and magaztari seeds (watermelon seeds), rose petals, black pepper, poppy seeds, cardamom, saffron, milk and sugar then it is calledSookhaa Mevaa ki thandai” meaning ” thandai made with dried fruits. It is rich in aromatic flavors. Thandai is also served as a booze then it is called Bhang (a preparation of leaves and flowers (buds) of the female cannabis plant)during Holi. If you are interested know about bhang lassi watch this video of  “No reservations” by Anthony Bourdain , he has mentioned about bhang lassi at around 6.54 min of the video. If you watch old bollywood movies there will dance by hero, heroine after drinking bhang ki thandai (meaning thandai mixed with bhang). Now hero, heroines of bollywood movies are more interested in slow motion walking and exercise dances. 
You will be wondering why all of sudden I am talking about thandai. During one of my visits to Indian store, I had bought a pack of thandai mix, and it was sitting happily in my pantry. Last week my clutter organizing hubby rearranged everything in the pantry to make some room. Then the long lost thandai mix showed up its face. Wednesday 2nd of March was this year’s Shivarathri, so I decided to make some thandai as offering to Lord Shiva. Normally in my house for Shivarathri, amma did not make any special dishes; but we went to the temple and offered fruits and milk to God Shiva. This time I wanted a change.
Just out of curiosity I looked at the ingredients in thandai mix. It has cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom and rose petal. In the box it is written that mix 4 tablespoon of mix to milk and add sugar. I thought I should consult with my Google friend on what is the original recipe, before I make this dish. I know in Indian cooking you can see lot of variation for a single dish. I was surprised to know that thandai is not made with just the spices mentioned in that store bought mix, but it also contains, almond, fennel, cardamom, poppy seeds, saffron, etc. So I dropped the idea of making thandai with that mix and made a new mix from scratch. 

I adapted recipe from Tara Dalal web site  as well as from Aparna of My diverse kitchen , and made my changes such as I used almond meal instead of almond and cashews instead of watermelon seeds as I don’t have it in hand. To give extra spicy touch I added whole cloves, reduced the amount poppy seeds and fennel seeds as my little one might want to do some taste testing. I made a ground paste of almond, cashew, poppy seeds, black pepper, fennel seeds and cloves, and incorporated this paste into boiled cooled sweet milk .I refrigerated the milk with paste for 4-6 hours to infuse the flavors into the milk, and served with chopped pistachio, rosewater and saffron. Yes it was really refreshing drink and I am going to make it again.
One Year  ago: Baked Jalapeno Poppers
Print recipe from here

What you need

Milk: 1 ¼ cup
Sugar: 2 tablespoon
Rose water: 1/4 teaspoon
Saffron: 5 sprigs
Pistachio: ½ tablespoon

To ground
Almond meal/Almond flour: 1 ½ tablespoon
Poppy seeds: 1 teaspoon
Fennel seeds: 1 teaspoon
Pepper corns; 5no
Cloves: 3 no
Cashews: 5no
Cardamom: 1 no

How I made

In a small bowl heat milk and sugar and bring to boil and set aside to cool completely.
In a coffee grinder grind, almond meal, cashew nuts, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, cardamom, cloves and pepper corns into fine paste. Add this ground paste into the cooled boiled sweet milk along with rose water and mix well to incorporate everything. Refrigerate spiced milk for 4-6 hours of to get flavors infused well. 

When you are ready to serve strain the milk and remove the solids. Serve cool spiced milk garnish with saffron and slivered pistachios.

Enjoy !!

Sending this thandai to  Holi aye re event hosted by Vatsala

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  1. says

    Thandai looks absolutely tempting. Very nice recipe n pictures dear. Great to know the variations also:) I too thought of buying a pack of that mix and thanks for the info, I will try from scratch:)

  2. says

    Your post is very informational. I have heard of bhang before but never realized it had cannabis buds in it, I thought it was alcohol based. The thandai looks very refreshing!

  3. says

    THannxx for that fantastic info Swathi , updated my post:-)
    Now to look for those seeds , till then am gng to try to grow those stalks:-)

    I didn know that thandai has all these delicious ingredients and that thandai is mixed with the bhang or this is what bhang is :-)
    Yeah i have seen my fair share of the dances of the bhangi hero’s dancing around ,lol:-)

    UR thandai sure looks extremely delicious and tempting.
    Must try this someday , and bookmarking ur page for that day.

  4. says

    Very interesting, I wander if you could use almond milk instead of normal milk for the recipe. In Italy there is some very nice almond milk!