Thandai

4.62 from 13 votes

Thandai is a traditional Indian beverage popular in the North Indian states of UP and Rajasthan. It is made especially for the festivals of Holi and Shivratri. Here is my easy recipe for this spiced Holi drink.

Try more Indian summer coolers: Jaljeera, Fuljar Soda, Aam Panna, Rose Lassi, and Jeera Soda.

Thandai served in a glass.
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About Thandai

Thandai is a traditional Indian drink popular in Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Rajasthan. It’s also known as Sardai in some parts of India.

This beverage is made especially for the festivals of Holi and Maha Shivaratri. When I was growing up, no Holi celebration in North India was complete without this refreshing Indian cold drink and Mawa Gujiya. If you are from North India, you will attest to it.

The word Thandai comes from the Hindi word Thand, which means cold. Thandai drink has a cooling effect on the body, hence the name.

Made using milk and many aromatic spices, dried nuts, and dried fruits, this festive drink is very refreshing and a perfect summer cooler.

Thandai was traditionally made with a dose of Bhang (Cannabis). Even today, some people add weed to it to make it intoxicating. But be very careful and try Bhang Thandai at your own risk. Getting high on it is not fun if you are not used to it.

Although many readymade versions of this drink are available, nothing beats the taste of a homemade one. The taste of these readymade mixes is quite far from the real stuff, and I highly suggest you make it from scratch at home.

I also have a Thandai Powder and Thandai Syrup recipe on the blog. Do check them out, too.

Ingredients

Milk – Best Thandai is made using whole milk (full-fat milk) as it makes it rich and creamy. Use skim or low-fat milk to make it healthier.

To make vegan thandai, replace dairy milk with plant-based milk like almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, etc.

Dried nuts, fruits, and seeds – You will need dried seeds, fruits, and nuts such as almonds, cashew nuts, raisins, white poppy seeds (khus khus), and magaz seeds (melon seeds).

You can also add some pumpkin seeds or watermelon seeds to the recipe.

If poppy seeds are not available, then skip adding them.

Spices – This drink is flavored with whole spices like green cardamom pods (hari elaichi), black peppercorns (kali mirch), and fennel seeds (saunf).

Saffron – Adding strands of saffron is optional, but it makes the drink even richer. It also adds a hint of yellow color to Thandai.

Sugar – Adjust the sugar as per your taste. You can also sweeten it with honey or maple syrup.

Rose Water – Rose water makes this drink very refreshing.

How To Make Thandai

Make The Thandai Paste

Add the following ingredients to a medium mixing bowl.

  • 10-12 whole almonds
  • 10-12 whole cashew nuts
  • 25-30 whole black peppercorns
  • 10-12 raisins
  • 10-12 whole green cardamoms
  • 1 teaspoon white poppy seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon melon seeds
  • 1 pinch of saffron strands
Nuts, seeds, and spices added to a bowl.

Add ½ cup of water to the bowl and mix everything well.

Cover the bowl with a lid and keep it over the counter for 5-6 hours or overnight.

Note – If it’s too hot where you live, soak the ingredients at room temperature for 3-4 hours and refrigerate them for another 2-3 hours.

Water added to the bowl.
Soaked ingredients.

Add the soaked ingredients and the leftover water to a blender and blend to make a fine paste.

Add 2-3 tablespoon of milk if required while blending.

Scrape the sides of the blender a few times while blending. Set the paste aside.

Soaked ingredients added to a blender.
Smooth paste made.

Cook The Thandai

Heat 4 cups of milk in a heavy bottom pan over medium heat.

Stir frequently to prevent the milk from scorching at the bottom of the pan.

Milk added to a pan.

When the milk comes to a boil, stir in the paste that we made earlier, along with ¼ cup of granulated white sugar and ½ teaspoon rose water.

Paste, sugar and rose water added to the pan.

Cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently.

Check for sugar, add more if required, and cook for another minute.

Cooked milk.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool down for 10 minutes.

Transfer the milk mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate it for 3-4 hours for the flavors to mingle.

Strain The Thandai

Now pass the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, muslin cloth, or a nut milk bag, and discard the leftover pulp.

Chilled milk passed through a fine-mesh strainer.
Leftover in the strainer.

Pour the Thandai into serving glasses.

Garnish with fresh or dried rose petals and slivered dried nuts. Serve chilled. You can also add a few cubes to each glass.

Ready thandai.

Pro Tips By Neha

If you don’t like the spicy kick, reduce the black peppercorns.

Increase the fennel seeds if making it as a summer drink to enhance its cooling effect.

The leftover pulp after straining the thandai can be used in curries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drink thandai at night?

Thandai is a cooling drink mainly served chilled. It is advisable to avoid drinking chilled drinks at night. But if you want to drink it at night, you can heat it, froth it a little, and serve it warm and bubbly.

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Thandai is a traditional Indian beverage popular in the North Indian states of UP and Rajasthan. It is made especially for the festivals of Holi and Shivratri. Here is my easy recipe for this spiced Holi drink.
4.62 from 13 votes

Thandai Recipe (Flavored Spiced Holi Drink)

Thandai is a traditional Indian beverage popular in the North Indian states of UP and Rajasthan. It is made especially for the festivals of Holi and Shivratri. Here is my easy recipe for this spiced Holi drink.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Soaking Time and Infusing Time: 10 hours
Total: 10 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

  • 10-12 almonds
  • 10-12 cashew nuts
  • 25-30 black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  • 10-12 raisins (kishmish)
  • 10-12 green cardamoms (hari elaichi)
  • 1 teaspoon white poppy seeds (khus khus) (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 1 teaspoon melon seeds (magaz)
  • 1 pinch saffron (kesar) (optional)
  • 4 cups whole milk (full-fat milk)
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon rose water
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Instructions 

Make Thandai Paste

  • Add almonds, cashew nuts, black peppercorns, raisins, green cardamoms, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, melon seeds, and saffron to a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add ½ cup of water to the bowl and stir well.
  • Cover the bowl with a lid and keep it over the counter for 5-6 hours or overnight.
  • Note – If it’s too hot where you live, then soak the ingredients at room temperature for 3-4 hours and then refrigerate them for another 2-3 hours.
  • Add soaked ingredients to a blender with the leftover water and blend to make a fine paste.
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of milk if required while blending. Scrape the sides of the blender a few times while blending. Set the paste aside.

Cook The Thandai

  • Heat milk in a heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent the milk from scorching at the bottom of the pan.
  • When the milk comes to a boil, stir in the paste that we made earlier, sugar, and rose water.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently.
  • Check for sugar and add more if required and cook for another minute.
  • Remove the pan from heat and let the mixture cool down for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the milk mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate it for 3-4 hours for the flavors to mingle.

Strain The Thandai

  • Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, muslin cloth, or a nut milk bag, and discard the leftover pulp.
  • Pour the Thandai into serving glasses. Garnish with rose petals and slivered dried nuts. Serve chilled. You can also add a few cubes to each glass.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Make sure to measure the ingredients properly as the proportions make a lot of difference in the final taste.
If you don’t like the spicy kick, then reduce the black peppercorns.
Increase the fennel seeds if making it as a summer drink to enhance it’s cooling effect.

Nutrition

Calories: 225kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Sodium: 81mg, Potassium: 381mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 24g, Vitamin A: 301IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 255mg, Iron: 1mg
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4.62 from 13 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe! I used freshly made almond milk in the place of regular milk and the thandai was YUM! Reminds me of the thandai my mom made in summers! Thanks a lot!