Thandai – Holi Festival

March is the season of Holi, the festival of color, similar to the beautiful colors of spring. This is the Indian festival welcoming spring. In different regions of India, people perform different rituals. On the eve of Holi, typically at or after sunset, the holy pyre is lit, signifying Holika Dahan. This ritual symbolizes the victory of good over evil and is celebrated as a day of spreading happiness and love.  People sing and dance around the fire.

As a child, I prepared for Holi starting early in the morning. Filling balloons with water and getting the variety of colors ready. Then as the day started, all the friends and family around get together to play Holi. Bright colors fill the air and people take turns applying colors on their beloved while exchanging greetings. You all probably know by now, India is known for its rich culture, lavish festivals, and of course, their delicious food!

When it comes to varieties of dishes served on Holi, I can go on forever! Food options are diverse and endless! Today I am sharing with you my all-time favorite drink, which is specially made on Holi! Thandai is a traditional flavored milk-based cooling refreshing drink. This drink is the highlight of Holi and its loaded with dry fruits and spices. Most of the ingredients are easily found in Indian grocery store. Thandai powder can be made ahead of time and can be stored in airtight container for couple of months. This drink provides amazing cool effects during hot summers, hence it’s my favorite drink of all time! Now let’s get to the recipe!

Serves 4

Per serving Calories 200, Fat 10g, Carbs 19g, Fiber 1g, Protein 8g


For Thandai powder

1 cup almonds

1 cup cashews

1 cup pistachios

3 tbsp fennel seeds

4 tbsp poppy seeds

4 tbsp melon seeds

15 pods cardamom, peeled

15 black pepper corn

2 inch cinnamon

Saffron – few strands

20 dried rose petals

For Thandai drink

4 cups of full fat milk

1 cup of half and half  

4 tbsp of sugar

4 tbsp of Thandai powder


For Thandai powder – add all the ingredients in Vitamix and grind into fine powder. Store in air tight container in the fridge for up to couple of months.

For Thandai drink – Heat big pan over medium heat, add milk and bring to boil. Add sugar and continuously mix until melted. Add 4 tbsp of Thandai powder and mix until uniform. Turn off the stove and let milk cool. You can adjust sugar and Thandai powder to taste. If you like bright yellow color, add couple strands of saffron before milk cools down. I don’t like straining, because you will lose all the awesome nutrients. However, if you like yours strained then strain into a big jug and let it chill in fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight. Served chilled Thandai, prior it a good stir. Pour in glasses, garnish with silvered almonds, saffron strands and dried rose petals.

Notes – If your Thandai is too thick, you can add little water and adjust consistency to your liking.

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