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Creamy and cooling this homemade Thandai recipe is the perfect addition to your Holi celebrations. Made with a flavorful mixture of nuts, seeds, and spices this refreshing drink is absolutely irresistible.
Table of contents
During the warm months of spring and summer, there is nothing more refreshing than a cool glass of Thandai. This sweet drink will cool you from the inside out!
History of the recipe
Thandai (also called sardai) is a traditional Northern Indian beverage often served during festivals. Commonly made during Holi and Maha Shivaratri, this cold drink is made by stirring thandai paste with milk.
You’ll notice that to make this paste, a variety of nuts, seeds, and spices are used. It may seem overwhelming at first, don’t you worry they come together in complete harmony. You’ll notice though that the flavor of saffron, pistachios, rose petals, and fennel seeds stand out more than the rest.
In Hindi, the word Thandai translates to mean cooling. It’s believed that the mixture of spices blended with the milk cools the body, which is why it’s often consumed during the warmer months.
While you can certainly serve Thandai hot, many people agree a cold glass is best.
Why We Love Homemade Thandai
While you can certainly buy pre-made syrups or powders for making Thandai at home, there is truly nothing better than making your own blend for Thandai. A few reasons we love this homemade recipe include:
- No artificial flavors – Every sip of this cooling beverage is loaded with fresh, real flavor.
- Easily adaptable – You can add in different spices or nuts based on preference.
- Fresh and bursting with flavor- Unlike store-bought powders or syrups which often miss the mark on flavor, this homemade recipe packs in the flavor.
How to make homemade Thandai
This easy to make recipe takes very minimal hands-on time. Simply soak, blend, and mix for a creamy, cooling drink perfect for festivals.
Ingredients for Thandai
- Nuts- I use a blend of almonds, cashews, and pistachios to get a creamy base.
- Seeds – Poppy, watermelon, and fennel seeds give a little flavor to the paste.
- Spices – Peppercorn, cinnamon stick, cardamom seeds, rose petals, and saffron add flavor and color to the paste.
- Water – Used to soak the nuts, seeds, and spices blend to help make the smooth paste.
- Sugar – Sweetens the paste and helps the Thandai have a nice sweet finish.
- Milk – Used to help grind the paste and is also the base of the Thandai drink. Make sure to use cold milk.
Step by Step Instructions
- Mix together all of the ingredients except sugar and milk.
- Soak the mix of nuts, seeds, and spices in warm water for an hour.
- After soaking, grind the ingredients into a fine paste with the sugar. Use about 1/2 cup of milk to aid with the grinding, if needed.
- When you are ready to make Thandai, stir 4 Tablespoons of the paste with 1 cup cold milk, Mix well and serve with ice.
Make it vegan – swap out the milk and use almond milk instead for a sweet vegan Thandai.
How to prep ahead
You can easily save yourself some time by making this Thandai paste up to one week in advance. I would suggest soaking and grinding the paste with water instead of milk to be able to store the blend ahead of time. Keep the pre-made paste in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
To make the beverage in advance, I would recommend mixing the paste with milk no more than 2 days in advance of when you plan to drink it. Keep the Thandai in a pitcher in the refrigerator until your are ready to serve.
How to store
If ground with milk, store the homemade Thandai paste in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Paste ground with water stores well in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container.
Different variations of Thandai
There are many different versions of Thandai here are a few of the most common blends made:
- Mango – With the addition of mango puree, this thandai is an excellent summer beverage.
- Badaam kesar – A blend using almonds and saffron.
- Bhang Thandi – A version with bhang, a mixture of buds, leaves, and the flowers of a cannabis plant.
Frequently asked questions
While delicious, this sweet creamy beverage is not entirely healthy. Since it’s a sugary beverage it should be consumed in moderation but it’s perfect for celebrations such as Holi and Maha Shivaratri.
The most common time to drink Thandai is during Holi, during the spring and during summer months to cool you off.
The most common version of Thandi includes a milk base blended with spices, nuts, and seasoning such as almonds, fennel, watermelon seeds, poppy seeds, saffron, pepper, and sugar.
Other festive recipes you’ll love
- Gulab Jamun – Popular at many Indian restaurants this soft, melt-in-your-mouth sweet can easily be made from the comfort of your home.
- Easy Gajar or Carrot Halwa- Gajar halwa or Carrot pudding is a delectable dessert made from grated carrots, milk, and sugar.
- Instant Pot Rice Kheer – This Indian Rice Pudding comes out creamy and flavorful, without spending hours in the kitchen.
- Fig and Walnut Halwa – This Instant Pot fig and walnut halwa makes a perfect dessert for when you need a quick and easy recipe to satisfy your sweet cravings.
- ¼ cup almonds
- ¼ cup cashews
- ¼ cup pistachios
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 2 tablespoons melon seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 7-8 black peppercorns
- 1 inch cinnamon stick optional
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
- ¼ cup rose petals
- 7-8 strands saffron
- 1 cup warm water 150°F / 65°C
- 0.25 to 0.5 cups sugar or to taste
- 5 cups cold milk
- Soak all the ingredients except sugar and milk in warm water for an hour.
- Add the soaked ingredients to the blender along with sugar. Use about 1/2 cup of milk to aid with the grinding, if needed.
- Grind them to a fine paste.
- To make Thandai, stir in 4 tablespoons of this paste to a cup of cold milk. Mix well. Serve it with ice.
Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.