A delicious milk based drink enjoyed during Holi; Thandai is a chilled drink full of flavor from nuts, seeds and Indian spices!
February has come to an end and March is almost here. I look forward to March for two reasons; the lovely colors of spring and Holi. While it still feels like deep into Winter right now, I am glad Holi is around the corner!
The festival of Colors, Holi is celebrated across India in different ways. Some with colors, some perform pujas; but everybody enjoys Thandai. This spiced milk preparation is famous across the country.
Made from a special masala called Thandai masala, this milk is served chilled; sometimes even spiked with a substance called bhaang. The masala is a mixture of seeds, spices and nuts; mainly almonds, pistachios, melon seeds, fennel seeds and poppy seeds. Sometimes served topped with saffron or rose petals, this one is super yummy!
While Thandai is more famous in Holi, it is also enjoyed in Mahashivratri. I still remember visiting the temple on Shivratri and being served sabudana khichdi and thandai as prasad. That is probably the most delicious form I have EVER had! While the masalas are more or less similar everywhere, the taste varies largely.
You can get yourself a bottle of Thandai masala from the store and make the drink. However, it only takes a few ingredients to make and comes together in minutes. And the best part, you can refrigerate it for a few days. So whip up a big batch and store it for later. Grab the recipe here.
Here in the US we have a Holi celebration at the temple. And every time we are back from there, we crave for a glass of Thandai. So a few days before the day, I make a large amount of Thandai Masala and refrigerate it. I just made this year's batch yesterday and managed a few good clicks.
On my last trip to India, I happened to see beautiful glasses made from steel and coated with beautiful meena work (a form of art famous in some parts of the country). They were too good to be left behind, so they came with me. I have been hoping to make something nice to serve in them and what better than Thandai. Finally they are out of the closet and I can't help but stare at them for a long long time!
I made the Thandai masala from scratch. However, you can get a ready-made version too. If you do not have dried rose petals, just leave them out. Though I would suggest adding all the ingredients in the masala, leave out the ones you cannot find or do not like.
Milk 2 cups
Sugar 2 tbsp
Saffron a few strands
Dried Rose Petals a few
In a pan add milk and sugar. Bring it to a boil and add Thandai powder. Mix well and boil for 5-6 minutes. Turn down the heat.
Cool the Thandai to room temperature. Sieve through a metal sieve or cheesecloth. Refrigerate for a few hours.
Once it is chilled, divide into two glasses. Top with some thandai powder, saffron strands and dried rose petals. Serve.