Holi hai… Come Holi & you will hear these chants in the streets & on the lips of every one you meet! Holi marks the end of winter gloom & rejoices in the bloom of spring time. It is the best time & season to celebrate. The lighting of the bon fire is symbolic of triumph of good over evil. It also heralds the onset of summer.

Then comes the festival of colors (Dhulval/Rangapanchami) where people enjoy a riot of colors – Dhulval where dry colors are used especially gulal & rangapanchami where colored water is used. Earlier natural & organic colors were used. Vegetable, flower & fruit dyes were not harmful to the skin & every one at home would participate in making colors using beetroot, spinach, turmeric, palash, hisbiscus, etc. Nowadays, you get commercial & chemical colors over the counter which can be harmful & dangerous to the skin, eyes & hair. It is better to indulge in clean fun without enforcing on people who are not interested in it.

But the best part is the vast array of delightful food, desserts & cool & refreshing drinks. Today’s special post for Holi is the traditional drink… Thandai. Thandai is a refreshing & healthy drink which is savored when people are exhausted after playing with colors. A glass of thandai offers instant energy & sets the mood for playing with colors.

The tradition of Thandai is prevalent in North India. Banaras/Varanasi, is the hub for Thandai & is their speciality. Banarasis have a passion for milk based drinks & sweets. During Holi, special thandai is prepared which is laced with intoxicating bhang which sets the mood for Holi & makes one dance, sing & basically go wild!

Thandai is a coolant which is prepared with purified water, cashewnuts, almonds, pistachios, seeds of watermelon & muskmelon, aromatic rose petals, sweet spices like sauf, green cardamom, nutmeg, sauf, cinnamon, poppy seeds, white & black pepper, rose water & above all creamy milk & saffron. All these aromatic spices, nuts & rose petals provided by nature combines together to make a wonderful coolant to calm & soothe the digestive system which is essential in the hot summers.

Many commercial concentrates are easily available to make Thandai but homemade ones always taste better & above all is pure! My family thoroughly enjoys this cool, refreshing & chilled homemade Thandai. So celebrate holi with this cool drink & have a great Holi… 😀

Ingredients :

  • 1 litre full cream Milk
  • 1 ½ litres Water
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 15 Almonds
  • 15 Pistachios
  • 15 Cashewnuts
  • 1 tbsp. Khuskhus (Poppy Seeds)
  • ½ tbsp. Sauf (Aniseed)
  • ½ tsp. Green Cardamom Pwd.
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon Pwd.
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg Pwd.
  • ½ tsp. Rose Water
  • 10 Whole Black Peppercorns/ ½ tsp Black Pepper Pwd.
  • 8 White Peppercorns/ ¼ tsp. White Pepper Pwd.
  • Few strands of Saffron (lightly roasted, crushed & soaked)
  • ¼ cup dried or fresh aromatic Pink Rose Petals

Garnishing :

  • Few strands of Saffron
  • Few aromatic Pink Rose Petals
  • Few slivered mixed nuts
  • Some ice cubes

Method :
Soak sugar in ½ litre of water & keep aside.

Wash clean all the dry ingredients & soak in 2 cups of water.

Let it soak for about 2-3 hrs. or overnight.

Grind all the soaked ingredients except sugar to a smooth & fine paste.

Pass through a fine sieve/strainer or muslin cloth over a large deep pan/pot/bowl.

Extract the liquid thoroughly.

Add remaining reserved water, a little at a time to extract more liquid.

Extract completely by squeezing with hands or with the back of a spoon, till the residue is dry & like husk.

Add chilled creamy milk, rose water, prepared & reserved sugar syrup to the extracted liquid. Mix in cardamom, nutmeg, black & white pepper pwd., saffron, crushed rose petals.

Mix & chill well before serving.

Serve garnished with slivered mixed nuts, few strands of saffron, rose petals & crushed ice or ice cubes.

Enjoy Holi & relish your Thandai! 😀

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