Friday, March 8, 2019


Festivals and food in India are very intrinsically linked. We are in a perpetual state of celebration. A harvest festival here, a special God's birthday there, an auspicious date from the Hindu calendar, the festival of lights in fall or the festival of color in spring. There is always something to celebrate with family and friends. And each of these festivals has its own unique food.

Thandai is one such drink that is associated with Mahashivratri and Holi. This cold and refreshing milk-based drink is prepared with an array of nuts, aromatic spices, and flavorings. Served virgin or spiked, enjoyed by all big or small.

'Thandai' literally means 'something cooling'. This energizing and cooling drink is wonderful for those scorching summer months in India. Every ingredient in Thandai has great health benefits. Almonds are a great source of healthy fats and Vitamin E with anti-oxidant properties. Fennel seeds have good digestive properties, pumpkin seeds are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

The recipe below makes about 4-5 cups of Thandai mix. Store in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. For long term storage, freeze in an airtight container. For a party, you can blend the thandai mix with milk and refrigerate in a large container until serving time. Serve virgin shots or spiked glassfuls as required.

1 cup poppy seeds (khus khus)
1 cup almonds, unsalted (badam)
¾ cup fennel seeds (saunf)
½ cup cashews, unsalted  (kaju)
½ cup pistachios, unsalted  (pista)
½ cup pumpkin seeds (magaz)
 cup green cardamom (elaichi)
 cup whole black peppercorns (kali mirch)
1 tsp nutmeg powder
For garnish
Few strands of saffron
¼ cup Rose petals (optional)
Crushed pistachios
To Spike it
  1. Grind the first eight ingredients to form a powder. 
  2. Add nutmeg powder and mix well. 
  3. Store the thandai powder in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or freeze for longer shelf life. 
  4. To make Thandai: In a blender add a cup of cold milk, a heaped tablespoon of thandai powder and sugar to taste. Blend till well mixed. Let sit for a few minutes to let the flavors blend. 
  5. Strain and serve chilled sprinkled with crushed pistachios, a few strands of saffron and some rose petals.
  6. Sometimes I like to serve it as is without straining. 
  7. Spiked Thandai: Make thandai as above and add a shot of vodka or scotch. 

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