Today, Indians celebrate Holi, the festival of spring, also known as the festival of colours. Holi signifies the victory of good over evil and the arrival of spring, but for many people it’s also an opportunity to repair ruptured relationships. During this time, people play, chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water… indoors and out on the streets. People visit family and friends to throw colours at each other and share Holi delicacies. One of these is Thandai (also known as Sardai), a drink made with milk, almonds, fennel seeds, melon seeds, poppy seeds, rose petals, pepper, cardamom, saffron and sugar. It is a really refreshing beverage, perfect to cool you down on a hot summer day. Thandai is traditionally prepared as an offering to Lord Shiva during Holi and during the festival of Maha Shivaratri. As I had never made Thandai at home and I wanted to get it right, I asked for help in a wonderful Facebook community called Chef at Large where I recently “met” many wonderful people, all experts in Indian cooking! Thanks everyone for pointing me in the right direction! The below recipe is a mix of the many recipes I read and it turned out just the way we like it! It is a very simple recipe and I suggest you bookmark it for the summer months… it will make a great addition to the non alcoholic section of your next party buffet! Enjoy and Happy Holi to all who celebrate!
Thandai - a refreshing Indian drink made with milk, almonds and spices, perfect to cool you down on a hot summer day and traditionally prepared during Holi.
- 1 lt. – 4 cups full fat milk
- ½ cup almonds whole and peeled
- 2 ½ tbsp melon seeds char magaz
- 1 tbsp white poppy seeds khuskhus
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- 6-8 peppercorns
- 1 ½ tbsp rose water
- ½ cup sugar
- Saffron strands a pinch
- Pistachios a few to decorate
- Edible rose petals a handful (optional)
Put the milk and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. Once the sugar dissolves turn off the heat and allow it to cool.
In the meantime, grind the almonds, peppercorns and all the seeds and make a fine paste using 1 cup of water.
Add this paste to the milk and mix well. Then cover and keep aside for at least 1 hour.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing down the solids.
When ready to serve, stir the thandai, pour it into glasses and garnish with some chopped pistachios, saffron and edible rose petals (optional). Serve chilled.