Thandai is a cool and refreshing milk based drink filled with bold aromatic flavors. Traditionally this North Indian beverage is consumed mainly during the festival of Holi (Festival of Colors usually in the month of March) but I like it anytime of the year. Thandai is essentially an energy drink; it’s full of calcium and vitamins. It’s also a good way to get more milk into your diet and is especially healthy for children.
There are many variations to this recipe and the more traditional recipes contain some hard to find and unusual ingredients (such as lotus stem seeds). Pre-made thandai concentrate and ready made thandai powders are readily available in most Indian grocery stores but I prefer this easy home made recipe. This particular recipe is one of my personal favorites.
THANDAI (Indian Milk Cooler)
4 cups of milk (you can use low fat or soy milk)
˝ cup almonds
2 tbsp unsalted sunflower seeds (hulled)
2 tbsp melon seeds (hulled), available in any Indian grocery store
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds (or aniseeds)
˝ tsp rosewater (or a few drops of rose essence), optional
pinch of saffron, optional
sugar, to taste
toasted pistachio pieces for garnish
crushed ice, optional
Grind the almonds together with the poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, melon seeds, black peppercorns, cardamom pods and fennel seeds into a fine powder.
In a blender, combine the milk with the freshly made powder. Add the rosewater, saffron and sugar. Blend until creamy and frothy.
You can serve the thandai over ice or add some crushed ice to the blender and blend into a creamy shake. Garnish with the toasted pistachio piece and serve
There is really no wrong way to make thandai, so feel free to add your own favorite ingredients (cashews, pinch of cinnamon, toasted sesame seeds…).
If you have an ice cream machine, you can always make a frozen version of thandai.