Commonly served on festivals like Holi and Shivratree, thandai is a refreshing milk based drink from North India. It combines various kinds of nuts, spices, saffron and rose petals and may also have traces of bhaang, a marijuana derivative. The beverage is typically served in large pewter or stainless steel glasses to be consumed as a fresh preparation among family and friends. Adapted from Saveur, this recipe has all the classic ingredients of a traditional thandai that can be effortlessly made at home. On this sweet note, I wish my readers a very happy and colourful Holi!



1/2 cup raw whole almonds

2 tablespoons raw cashew halves

2 tablespoons shelled pistachios

4 cups whole full cream milk

1 cup golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

10 black peppercorns

10 green cardamom pods

1″ stick cinnamon, broken into pieces

few strands of saffron, for garnish

20 rose petals, plus more for garnish


  • Blanch almonds and pistachios in boiling water and discard skins. Drain the nuts well.
  • Lightly roast them along with cashew nuts in a pan until they turn golden and fragrant.
  • Cool slightly before transferring the nuts to a food processor. Grind into a fine powder.
  • Bring milk to a boil in a 2-litre saucepan. Add sugar and saffron, stirring till it dissolves.
  • Toast fennel, peppercorns, cardamom and cinnamon in a small pan over medium heat.

  • Heat until fragrant for 4 minutes. Cool slightly, then grind the spices in a food processor.
  • With the help of a mortar, grind the rose petals to a paste along with 1 tablespoon milk.
  • Add the ground spices and the rose petals paste to the boiled milk and leave for 1 hour.
  • Strain the milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Add the ground nuts and stir well.
  • Refrigerate milk until chilled. Garnish with rose petals and saffron. Serve immediately.