Recipe courtesy of Nidhi Jalan for Food Network Kitchen


Getting reviews...
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr 15 min (includes soaking, steeping and cooling times)
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Thandai is a rich and aromatic drink primarily made with almonds, white poppy seeds and melon seeds, and flavored with cardamom, fennel, pepper, saffron and rose petals. It’s a must-have during Holi, the spring festival of color in India, when bhang, an edible mixture made from the cannabis plant, is also added to the drink. Thandai is traditionally made with cow's milk, but it’s equally delectable with almond milk. Although you need a whole host of ingredients, it’s not difficult to make and is really refreshing and unique--even without the bhang. Not bad with a shot of vodka either!



  1. Soak the almonds and pistachios in boiling water to cover for 1 hour.
  2. Combine the poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, cardamom seeds, rose petals, fennel and white pepper in a spice mill or grinder and finely grind. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, add just enough boiling water to moisten the mixture (about 1/4 cup) and let it soak for 1 hour.
  3. Drain the nuts, add them to a blender and grind until smooth. Add a few tablespoons of water as needed to get a smooth consistency. Add the soaked spice mixture and grind again until well mixed and smooth.
  4. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often, until it comes to a boil, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar and ground nut-spice mixture and bring to a gentle boil. Cover and let the mixture steep for at least 1 hour. You can also refrigerate the mixture overnight.
  5. Soak the saffron in the rosewater in a small bowl and mash with the back of the spoon so the saffron releases its color and turns the rosewater a deep orange.
  6. Line a strainer with a folded cheesecloth or muslin cloth and set over a large bowl. Pour the cooled mixture through the strainer. Gather the ends of the cloth and squeeze out as much of the aromatic milk as possible. Add the saffron-infused rosewater and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Serve the thandai cold and garnish with rose petals and slivered pistachios. You can also serve it over ice.

Cook’s Note

If you can't find raw slivered pistachios, raw shelled pistachios also work.