Thandai traditional Indian drink continues to delight us with its nutty flavor and refreshing essence on the occasion of Holi. The festival seems incomplete without a refreshing drink irrespective of whether you love to play with colors or not. The drink is enriched with almonds, fennel seeds, peppercorn, poppy seeds, cardamom, saffron, and sometimes rose. One can thus experience the goodness of nuts and spices in the milky shake that pampers the senses like nothing else. 

Thandai served in two glasses

Shardai – thandai laced with bhang

It is often laced with bhang to work as a mood setter that makes one sing and dance. The spice mix when enriched with bhang turns into an intoxicating drink which is the favorite of Lord Shiva and is offered to him on the occasion of Mahashivratri. The flower heads of cannabis are hallucinogenic and are added in small quantities. It is believed that nuts and spices have a cooling effect on the body. When laced with bhang, the drink is known as shardai and is considered a healthier option than alcohol.

The making of thandai!

The making of thandai is an easy task. However, one must be conscious of the desired taste and use the ingredients accordingly.

Several nuts and seeds like almonds, peppercorns, poppy seeds, cardamom, fennel seeds, and watermelon seeds are ground to make a fine paste. This mix is added to milk along with sugar and saffron. The resulting mixture is then kept aside for a few hours so that the flavors are absorbed in the milk. Eventually, the mixture is strained and consumed. It is optional to strain the mixture. One can savor the drink without straining. The coarseness of the nuts and seeds is felt in the throat when the drink is consumed without straining. The drink tastes best when chilled. At room temperature, the drink lacks a strong flavor. Likewise, the quantity of sugar and the number of spices can be adjusted to produce the desired sweetness.

But why nuts, seeds, and saffron?

Thandai ingredients
Thandai ingredients in spoon

Well, Holi isn’t just confined to colors. We can’t forget the culinary delights that form an essential part of the festival. From gujiya, malpua, and ras malai to the bhang pakoras and Puran Poli, Holi is highlighted with several culinary delights. One can’t resist the delicacies offered on the occasion of Holi after playing with colors. But what about the after-effects? We are all aware of the resulting gastrointestinal irritation and flatulence. That is why thandai is added to the menu. The poppy seeds used in the drink help relieve gastrointestinal irritation while the fennel seeds are well known for body cooling. These seeds are laden with proteins and fibers and help boost the immune system while saffron is an antiseptic, an antidepressant, and an antioxidant. Almonds accompany saffron with their antioxidizing properties, being rich in Vitamin E. On the other hand, watermelon and pumpkin seeds are natural energizers.

Homemade thandai recipe
Thandai served in glass with dry fruits besides

Important: One glass of thandai accounts for around 340 calories which meets 17% of the total daily calorie requirement of a standard adult diet. Balancing the calories is quite easy with thandai, provided the ingredients are chosen wisely. The health benefits of the drink thus extend beyond its cooling properties.

Have you tried the tea thandai?

Tea thandai
Served tea thandai in a glass

Yes, you heard it right! Tea thandai. It is prepared by boiling water and adding tea bags to it – the initial steps to make tea. The solution is then enriched with the nutty paste and topped with kali mirch and sugar to taste. It is then refrigerated with loads of ice and served with saffron strands that enhance its taste and color.

Playing with the flavors!

The drink is quite versatile when it comes to flavors. Keeping thandai as the foundation, one can play with its flavors by simply mixing it with seasonal fruits. Thandai tiramisu is one such example. There have been several innovations to enhance the taste of the drink. Thandai paste is indeed a fabulous base to work with. It can be used to make mousse cakes,cheesecakes,thandai macarons, thandai mocktails and thandai souffle. Thandai smoothies and thandai panna cotta shall be enlisted with the same. Apart from this, rose thandai, mango thandai, guava thandai, and thandai phirni continue to rule the menu of Holi.

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