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.