Its that time of the year. With the onset of the spring season comes the festival of Holi. It signifies the victory of good over evil. Holi is also known as the “festival of colors”, celebrated throughout India by smearing each other with colors. Where there is Holi, there is Thandai. Like every Indian festival food is paired with mouth-watering food, Holi too is incomplete without some scrumptious gujiya’s and energizing thandai’s.

Holi = Thandai

Thandai is synonymous with the festival of Holi and Shivratri. Originally, thandai was a fruit and spice based drink, but over the years, it has been refashioned into a milk based one as per the evolving taste trends. It is made with milk and infused with a perfect balance of exotic nuts and aromatic spices to make any gathering into a celebratory affair. Also, known as sardai, this delicious drink is best served cold.

There are many flavours of thandai, like the badaam thandai, mango thandai, rose thandai and for the wild-hearted, you may even find cannabis infused thandai in some parts of the city, known famously as the Bhaang Thandai. A bit of touristy info, Varanasi also known as Benaras, is the best place to enjoy authentic thandai.

A holy drink

Thandai, as the name suggests, is derived from the word Thanda meaning cool. According to the legend, it is the drink of Lord Shiva. This age-old drink has gained more popularity over the last century especially by the many popular Bollywood songs featuring Holi. Many foot tapping groovy songs from the iconic ‘Rang Barse’ to the more recent popular tune from ‘Badri ki Dulhaniya’ have been integral in popularizing Holi.

A happy toast to life

To make thandai masala, blend a mix of almonds, fennel seeds, rose petals, cardamom, saffron, sugar, pistachio, khus seeds, melon seeds, watermelon seeds, ani seeds and peppercorn for that spicy aftertaste, into a fine paste. You may make the masala paste in advance and refrigerate.

Now, whenever the mood strikes or if you have one of your soirees coming up, all you have to is blend approximately 2 tbsps (or to taste) of the thandai masala per glass of milk with some ice. And for the adult version, add some bhang or substitute it with some white rum, vodka or gin. Serve this tantalizing drink in kulhar (terracotta cups) or big brass tumblers to pamper the senses and rejuvenate the spirit. Thandai has a cooling effect on the body.


Recipe – How to make Thandai

Thandai - a popular festive drink

Thandai is synonymous with the festival of Holi and Shivratri. It is a popular festive drink, perfect for a summery day as it has a cooling effect on the body. Thandai is a milk-based drink infused with a perfect balance of aromatic spices and exotic nuts.

Course: Drinks
Origin: Delhi, north indian
Recipe by: Divya
For the Thandai Masala Paste
  • 25-30 pieces Almonds
  • 10 pieces Cashews
  • 10 pieces Pistachios
  • 1 tsp Khus Khus
  • 1 tsp Melon seeds
  • 1 tsp Watermelon seeds
  • 1 tsp Cucumber seeds
  • 1 tsp Fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp Ani seeds
  • 5-6 pieces White Peppercorns
  • 5-6 pieces Black Peppercorns
  • 5-6 pieces Green Cardamom husk removed, keep the seeds
  • 2 tsp Dry Rose Petals
  • 2 tbsp Rose Water
  • Pinch Saffron Soaked in hot milk
  • 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar or to taste
For the Thandai
  • Chilled Milk as required
  • Ice cubes as required
  • Handful Dry Rose Petals
  • Handful Pistachio roughly chopped
  • Handful Almond flakes
  • Pinch Saffron strands
For Thandai Paste
  1. To make a thandai paste, soak almonds overnight, peel them and keep aside.

  2. Soak Cashews, pistachios, all the seeds, khus khus, rose petals, white and black peppercorns for 2-3 hours.

  3. Blend all the soaked ingredients in a blender to a very fine paste.

  4. Add rosewater, green cardamom powder, saffron soaked in milk powdered sugar and stir well. Keep aside for half an hour so that all the flavours get infused.

  5. Now strain the above paste to get a smooth paste.

  6. You may make the thandai masala paste in advance and keep it refrigerated for future use. 

To Make Thandai
  1. Pour the paste approx 2 tbsps per glass. Add ice cubes (optional) with Chilled Milk or water or part water part milk as per your taste preference. Stir well.

  2. Try it and adjust the paste to taste.

  3. Add dry rose petals, roughly chopped pistachios, almond flakes, and saffron strands for garnishing. 

  4. Serve Chilled.

For the adult version
  1. You may add a shot of white rum, vodka or gin, at the time of adding milk/water to the paste.



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