Thandai (Sardaai)

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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.

A hand holding a brown mug with thandai and topped with rose petals in front of a tray of thandai.
Thandai Recipe

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.

A silver platter with nuts, seeds, and spices used to make thandai.
Thandai Ingredients

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

  1. Mix together all of the ingredients except sugar and milk.
  2. Soak the mix of nuts, seeds, and spices in warm water for an hour.
  3. 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.
  4. When you are ready to make Thandai, stir 4 Tablespoons of the paste with 1 cup cold milk, Mix well and serve with ice.

Recipe notes

Ingredient Substitution

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

Is Thandai good for health?

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.

When should you drink Thandai?

The most common time to drink Thandai is during Holi, during the spring and during summer months to cool you off.

What is Thandai made of?

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.

A silver platter with brown mugs of thandai topped with rose petals and a glass mug of thandai in the back right.
Refreshing Thandai

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. 
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A hand holding a brown mug of thandai topped with rose petals over a silver platter with another mug of thandai to the left.
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Learn how to make a creamy, refreshing glass of Thandai with this delicious homemade recipe.
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Soak time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 6



  • 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.


The awesome part of this recipe is it is very adaptable. For instance, you can reduce the amount of fennel if you don’t like the flavor or skip using cinnamon stick altogether.
The quantity of most of the nuts and spices can be tailored..but here’s the thing – if you don’t have rose petals and saffron handy, get them if you can. The drink won’t taste as authentic without them.
Read the post…For helpful information on ingredient swaps, storage tips, meal prep ideas, and variations!

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.


Calories: 274kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 11gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 94mgPotassium: 463mgFiber: 3gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 359IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 314mgIron: 2mg
Diet: Vegetarian
Course: Beverages
Method: Blender
Keywords: Cooling drink, Holi
Cuisine: Indian

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