Thandai - the Ultimate Indian Spiced Cold Beverage




An artist by birth, a software architect by choice, a lamp maker by passion, a learner forever. F...

How many times it happens when you sip a drink and say Ahhh...its so divine. Thandai (pronounced Than as in thunder,dai as in die) is such a drink my dear fellows. 

Thandai is a native & popular cold drink in India and is traditionally prepared as a religious offering to Lord Shiva on the occassion of  Mahashivratri and also during Holi (the festival of color).  During these festivals it is also mixed with Opium (powder or paste) to make it an intoxicating drink. We will not do that here :)

There is no equivalent word for Thandai in English but you can consider it a refrigerant because it helps keep your body cool.

Every year we celebrate Mahashivratri at home and make this divine drink (in reality we make it anytime, because it tastes so good). Therefore this recipe is native to my family but I will be honest, most of the ingredients are just common and process is just shifting of steps here & there.

I love this drink over any unnatural (made using essence and chemicals) drink because it is all natural and healthy, packed with protein, health fats (a.k.a essential fatty acids) and fiber.

Once you had its taste, I am sure it will become your favorite summer drink, even kids love it.

Useful information:

Preparation Time: 3-4 hours (only for refrigeration)
Cooking: 15 mins
Servings: 3-4
Vegan: No (Try almond milk or Soy, I have not tried it though)
Vegetarian: Yes

Lets make this divine drink.

UPDATE July 23, 2013: I have found a very detailed article about the health benefits of Thandai, now you can enjoy it even more without any guilt ;-). Check it out here:  Time Of India. I noticed they mentioned pumpkin seeds here instead of Melon seeds.

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Step 1: Ingredients

You will love to know the ingredients
  1. Full fat or whole milk 500 ml (16.9 oz.) (This is the traditional ingredient, you can use low fat milk too, it works well)
  2. Powdered Sugar  1/2 cup (I do not like it too sweet)
  3. Saffron  a few strands (I use little more)
For paste:
  1. Almonds,blanched and peeled  20
  2. Cashewnuts  15
  3. Pistachios Kernals  20
  4. Melon seeds (Magaj in Hindi) 3 tablespoons. Soaked for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Poppy seeds (khus-khus in Hindi) 3 tablespoons. Soaked for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Fennel (Saunf in Hindi)seeds 1tbsp. Soaked for 20-30 minutes.
For powder:
  1. Green cardamoms  4 to 6
  2. Dried Rose petals  15-20 (If you don't have them). Damascus Rose works best because of its exotic fragrance.
  3. Black peppercorns  4 to 6
To garnish:
  1. A few chopped pistachio
  2. A few fresh or dried rose petals
  1. Fresh Cream to add more texture
Kitchen Tools:
  1. A big pan to boil milk
  2. Mixer grinder
  3. A refrigerator
  4. Mortar and pestle (Don't worry if do not have it, you can simply crush the ingredients for powder)

Step 2: Making That Divine Paste and Powder

Making the paste:
Once you have the soaked ingredients along with other aforementioned ingredients for the paste (Image 1). Make paste by adding a little milk and grinding it till it forms a smooth creamy paste (Image 2).
NOTE: You can keep this paste in refrigerator to use later for few days.

Making the powder (Image 2):
Sadly : My dried rose petals became moist so I did not use them here, but we will use some fresh petals while garnish.
Use Mortar and pestle to crush all the ingredients of the powder (Image 3). It does not have to be super fine :).
NOTE: You can also keep this powder for later use

Keep the powder and paste aside.

Lets do little cooking

Step 3: Cooking and Mixing the Flavourful Elements

Now turn on your stove and put milk in a boiling pan and proceed as follows:
  1. Bring it to boil (Image 1).
  2. Add saffron.and mix (Image 1)
  3. When the milk starts to boil again, add sugar (Image 2).
  4. Simmer till the sugar is mixed.
  5. Add the paste and simmer for 2-4 minutes, strring continously (Image 3).
  6. Remove the pan from stove
  7. Transfer the content to another pan, add the powder (Image 4) and let it cool.
  8. Once the milk is cooled, refrigerate it for 3-4 hours to make it chilled.
NOTE 1: Before you remove the content from stove, take a drop of the final content and taste it for sugar, if you think it is lesser, add more powdered sugar to suit your taste and mix well.

NOTE 2: After cooling (not chilling), the final content may become thick. Do not worry, just add some milk till you get desired consistency and mix well, taste for sugar, if you think it has become less sweet, add more and stir well.

NOTE 3: You can add more milk plus a little water while boiling if you like a lighter consistency.
Almost done here.

Step 4: Serving the Delight

Before serving the chilled Thandai, stir it to make sure that the paste is not settled at the bottom (This usually happen if you chose to make thinner consistency drink). Pour in a glass garnish it with fresh or dried rose petals and chopped pistachios.

Ohhh.. the creamy  texture,  the spice of pepper and that sweet aroma. 

Your Thandai is ready for that heavenly sip. :).

Step 5: Experiments

I like Thandai in its original form  the best , yet I did some experiments on my own and found them fun. Oh!! by the way the experiments also resulted in good taste.

  1. Mix  a tea-spoon of instant coffee powder (I used Nescafe Gold) in Thandai to make your own chilled spiced latte. I love Pumpkin spiced latte of Starbucks, so this new taste was a delightful surprise.
  2. If you are a chocolate lover, try to add some chocolate syrup (I tried Hershey's). Before I pour Thandai in a glass I lined the inside of glass with chocolate syrup (just the way they do it in Starbucks :]) and then gently poured Thandai in it.
  3. Similarly you can use rose syrup :)
  4. You can also sprinkle crushed peppers while serving to add more to spice.
Note: Please experiment with small quantities :[)

With every Indian food recipe instructable I post , I try to bring Indian cuisine & hospitality closer to your heart. I hope you will find this ible easy & worthy enough for you to give a try at home :). Please do let me know should you have any queries, comments & suggestions in the comments section below.

Thank you so much for your time & efforts to visit & read this ible, I really appreciate that.

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    40 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I would love to know which doshas this is good for. Thank you.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    How did I miss this one? I love your pictures Tarun~ I found this because of the Saffron. I am researching this amazing spice. Thanks for sharing~


    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Oh i miss drinking making it this weekend. Miss the bhaang too! Its become reallly difficult to find it now in India.

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    omg this is got to be the most amazing drink / dessert with all of my beloved ingredients in such an unexpected combo!! i must make it!!
    ... or ask the lucky lord shiva to share a drop with me??? =)

    1 reply

    There you are my dear friend, I have been missing you here :). I have so glad you liked this, please do share your experience when you give it a try.
    Lord Shiva is very soft hearted, he would not mind :)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Tarun I thought I commented on here but I guess not....just wanted to say this looks incredible and I bet it tastes even better. Your main image is gorgeous..looks delicio

    2 replies

    You can do without melon seeds. However if you have noticed the update above in the introduction, some recipes also mention Pumpkin Seeds (Skinned I guess). hope this helps. Honestly I never tried pumpkin seeds, but I think they will work, because I do remember how they taste.


    6 years ago

    Haha, but I did try it - that's why I can say it's an instant favourite!

    1 reply

    6 years ago

    Haha, but I did try it - that's why I can say it's an instant favourite!


    6 years ago

    Wow, it looks really interesting! I was just wondering about the melon seeds - are they from a orange or green melon, or doesn't it matter? And do you just keep them and dry them yourself when you buy melon, or can you buy them as well?

    1 reply

    Thank you for stopping by :[) Melon seeds are usually musk melon (the one with orange inside), you can dry them at home or you can buy them from store. I bought them from store because they are easily available and widely used in Indian sweets.


    6 years ago

    It is amazing, instant favourite!! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    1 reply

    6 years ago

    This sounds delicious. I like spiced drinks such as egg nog and chai. Thank you for sharing.