Thandai: Spiced Milk

Thandai is a refreshing Indian spiced milk drink made with milk, peppercorn, cardamom, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, nuts, saffron and rose!

Thandai Spiced Milk
Spring is nature’s way of saying “Let’s party!” – Robin Williams

How to make Thandai: Spiced Milk

We just had the most gorgeous sunny day yesterday. After months of snow and miserable weather it was a reassuring sign that spring is surely on its way. Holi is one of my favorite reasons to look forward to Spring! Those that know me well, know that I LOVE Holi and look forward to it every year.
How to make Thandai: Spiced Milk

What is Holi

Holi is a two day spring harvest festival celebrated all throughout India. It is also known as “The Festival of Colors”. Bonfires are lit the on the eve of the festival. The second day the celebration continues by people throwing colored powder and colored water at each other. It is a joyous and festive occasion which welcomes spring and brightness in every one’s lives. (Think color run times ten!) Huge parties are held and parks are filled with people of all ages celebrating the festival of colors. Chilled lassi or thandai served with hot crispy pakora’s are common snacks during this time. 

Thandai Spiced Milk

What is Thandai: Spiced Milk

Thandai, literally translates to ‘something that cools’.  It’s a sweet, creamy milk drink flavored with nuts and spices. On Holi, Thandai is sometimes mixed with bhaang (a derivative of marijuana), however in more recent times adults have started to mix in Vodka or Gin!
How to make Thandai: Spiced Milk

One of my favorite stories my late Nanaji (maternal grandfather) told my brother and I was about my mom and how one Holi she “accidentally” drank Thandai that had been spiked with bhaang. After drinking the refreshment my mom swore that she felt as if she were walking on clouds. My brother and I were in tears and have never let our mom live that one down. You can always count on grandparents to embarrass your parents with childhood stories 😉 .

Thandai Spiced Milk

Even though Little Mirchi isn’t old enough to play with the powdered colors (everything is going in her mouth of late) I am eagerly looking forward to celebrating her first Holi and cannot wait until she’s old enough for color and water fights!

How to make Thandai: Spiced Milk

Why is Thandai the official drink of Holi?

Raango ki Holi is often played in the sun, when it’s hot and you’re surrounded by crowds of people. Thandai acts like a natural defense drink: aiding in digestion, immunity, and more.

Fennel seeds (saunf) and cardamom aids in flatulence while strengthening our overall digestive abilities.

Misri crystals, peppercorns, and clove are excellent at preventing cough, cold, and throat infections and aid in preventing the buildup of excessive heat in the body.

Saffron has anti-depressant properties while cardamom and rose are aromatic spices that have aphrodisiac properties.

How to make Thandai: Spiced Milk

Watermelon and pumpkin seeds are natural energizers. These two along with the healthy fats in nuts promote the feeling of fullness. 

Bhaang, which is often added to Thandai is an edible mixture made from the buds, leaves, and flowers of the female cannabis and aids in improving anxiety and physical pain.

How to make Thandai: Spiced Milk

When we start looking at food as medicine, we start seeing all the reasons why certain festivals focus on certain foods.

Here’s a Thandai recipe that would be a great addition to your Holi menu or just a sweet cool refreshment on a warm Spring day!

How to make Thandai: Spiced Milk

Thandai: Spiced Milk
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Thandai is a refreshing Indian spiced milk drink made with milk, peppercorn, cardamom, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, nuts, saffron and rose!
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
  • 4 cups milk
  • ½ cup misri / Indian sugar crystals
  • 1 tablespoon raw unsalted pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon raw unsalted almonds
  • 1 tablespoon melon seeds
  • 1 teaspoon khuskhus / poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon saunf / fennel seeds
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 2-3 strands of saffron
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 1 tablespoon rose petals
  1. Soak the almonds in water overnight or 4-6 hours, peel the skin off and let dry.
  2. In a heavy bottom pan toast pistachios, almonds, melon seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom pods and peppercorns over medium heat until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes, let cool completely.
  3. In a coffee grinder or food processor add nut and spice mixture, saffron, and misri. Pulse until fine powder.
  4. In a large pitcher or mason jar add milk of choice, rose water, and Thandai mixture. Whisk or shake until frothy. Strain in individual glasses through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down on solids.
  5. Serve chilled and garnish with crushed rose petals.
Use milk of choice, whole, oat, almond, etc



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