by soulfulpalate

First things first that instantly come to my mind when someone says Holi is gulaal, pichkari, gujiya, and thandai. And since food is my thing, I’ll talk more about that part. You can find the gujiya recipe in my other Holi-special blogpost. In this post, you will get to know how to make thandai in not one but four flavors. These flavors are my particular favorite, but you can easily customize flavors as per your liking too.

Thandai or Sardai is a refreshing Indian drink, loaded with goodness and richness of nuts, saffron, fennel seeds, cardamom, white poppy seeds, peppercorns! I love the fact that you can prepare it in advance by making thandai paste. And on the day of the festival, you can make this drink in a matter of minutes. This way, you can enjoy celebrating the vibrant festival of Holi and save time in the kitchen. 

Quick facts about Thandai:

  • As Holi comes in March and the weather becomes much warmer, this drink helps to quench your thirst. It keeps you hydrated when you are in the sun for hours.
  • It has a cooling effect on the body and hence the name Thandai. All thanks to its vital ingredient khus khus or white poppy seeds.
  • Traditionally, devotees of Lord Shiva made Thandai with a dose of Bhang (Cannabis) in it, to celebrate MahaShivratri. Slowly the tradition of consuming Thandai during the festival of Holi became a norm too. Even today, some people add the weed in it to make it intoxicating.
  • Apart from its delightful taste, Thandai has some eminent benefits for your body. It helps boost immunity, gives instant energy, soothes body internally due to heat, and aids digestion.


Though readily available in the market as an instant Thandai syrup, I prefer the natural and healthier version of homemade Thandai. I suggest making the basic thandai paste first and then use only a teaspoon as a recommended serving size per glass. So if you are making Thandai for ten people, use ten teaspoons with seven cups of cold milk and three cups ice-cold water. Further, add ice-cubes for enhanced cold taste. You can also consider making this drink vegan by using almond or soy milk. 

One can go with any choice of flavorings to make this festive drink. However, the flavors that I used here work pretty well in combination with basic Thandai ingredients. Everyone would relish the plain version, but I encourage you to go extra fancy with these flavors. Besides luscious taste, the beautiful and vibrant colors add to the excitement of the festival of Holi.

Kesar – Add some saffron strands soaked in water or milk to the plain version.

Rose – Add some rose syrup-like rooh afza to the thandai. Consider adding a few drops of rose essence and fresh/dried rose petals on top for gorgeous aroma and look. 

Paan – For this, you will need paan leaves. Half to one whole leaf works well per serving glass. Blend the leaves in a little amount of milk first and then mix it with the rest of the drink.

Chocolate – Blend some cacao or cocoa powder with Thandai in a blender or a mixer. Garnish with grated chocolate. Drizzling a bit of melted chocolate on top may score you some extra points!   

With Fruits – You can puree your choice of fruits and add it in for more flavor such as Guava, Mango, Strawberry, Banana, etc.

Making this yummy and enjoyable drink is not limited to only Holi. You can enjoy it in hot summer months to feel at ease. I love its texture and enjoy the nutty-ethereal taste. Team it up with other lip-smacking snack options like gujiya, mawa kachoris, bread pakodas, dahi or vegetarian galouti kebabs. In India, special occasions are incomplete without sumptuous foods and drinks. Having soul-satiating food adds to the fun and frolic nature of any celebration. I hope you enjoy this recipe and have fun rejoicing the glorious festival of colors. Happy Holi!! 



Thandai-Kesar, Rose, Paan and Chocolate

First things first that instantly come to my mind when someone says Holi is gulaal, pichkari, gujiya, and thandai. And since food… Drinks Indian beverage, holi, drinks, milk-based, rose, paan, chocolate, kesar Indian Print This
Serves: 6 Prep Time:
Nutrition facts: 108 calories 2 g fat


  • Instant Thandai Paste:
  • Almonds 150 g
  • Cashews 160 g
  • Chaar Magaz (Melon Seeds) 50 g
  • White Poppy Seeds 2 Tbsp
  • Pistachios/Pumpkin Seeds 50 g
  • Fennel Seeds (Saunf) 1 Tbsp
  • Cardamom Pods (Elaichi) 5
  • Big Cardamom (Badi Elaichi) 1
  • Cinnamon Powder 1 Tsp
  • Ginger Powder 1/2 Tsp
  • Black Peppercorns 7-8
  • Kesar Thandai: 1 tbsp of instant thandai paste, 7-8 saffron strands, 4 tbsp hot milk, 1 tsp honey or choice of sweetener, 1 cup cold milk, cold water (as per need), ice cubes
  • Rose Thandai: 1 tbsp of instant thandai paste, 1-2 tsp Rooh Aafza (sweet rose syrup), 1 cup cold milk, fresh/dried rose petals for garnish, few drops of rose essence (optional), cold water (as per need), ice cubes
  • Paan Thandai: 2 tbsp of instant thandai paste, 2 Whole Betel Leaves, 2 cups cold milk, 1-2 tsp honey or choice of sweetener, 1 sheet of Edible silver (Varq) and few chopped pistachios for garnish, cold water (as per need), ice cubes
  • Chocolate Thandai: 2 tbsp of instant thandai paste, 2 Tsp Cocoa or Cacao Powder, 2 cups cold milk, 1 tsp honey or choice of sweetener, Grated chocolate or chocolate sauce, cold water (as per need), ice cubes


Make Instant Thandai Paste:

  1. Soak almonds, cashews, chaar magaz, white poppy seeds, and pistachios/pumpkin seeds in water for 5-6 hours or overnight. Please soak them all separately.
  2. Drain the soaked water and give a quick rinse to the soaked ingredients.
  3. In a mixer, add the soaked ingredients along with the rest of the ingredients under instant thandai paste section on high speed. Pause every while to scrape off the sides of the mixing jar and blend again until you get a smooth but somewhat coarse texture. (Traditionally, all these ingredients were ground in a stone grinder like mortar and pestle. However, now electric mixers and food processors make for an excellent option to do so. It not only saves time but also lets you control the texture of the thandai paste. If not, you can stick to good old manual grinding for fun.)
  4. Please do not add any water while grinding. The moisture in soaked ingredients will help soften everything. If it becomes difficult to blend everything, do so in small batches and blend everything in last.
  5. Transfer the mixture in an airtight glass jar and refrigerate. Use this freshly prepared thandai paste to make refreshing thandai in as many flavors as you wish!

Kesar Thandai:

  1. Soak saffron strands in hot milk for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Pour cold milk and cold water in the serving glass.
  3. Mix in a tablespoon of thandai paste, honey and soaked saffron strands.
  4. Once everything is mixed thoroughly, add few ice cubes and garnish with rose petals and a sprinkle of saunf powder.
  5. Serve chilled!

Rose Thandai:

  1. Pour cold milk and cold water in the serving glass.
  2. Mix in thandai paste and rose syrup or rooh aafza.
  3. Once everything is mixed thoroughly, add few ice cubes and garnish with rose petals.
  4. Serve chilled!

Paan Thandai:

  1. Firstly, blend betel leaves with a little bit of cold milk and honey separately in a mixing jar or a blender.
  2. Pour cold milk and cold water in the serving glass.
  3. Add the blended mixture to the glass and then mix in the thandai paste as well. 
  4. Once everything is mixed thoroughly, add few ice cubes and garnish with edible silver sheet and chopped pistachios.
  5. Serve chilled!

Chocolate Thandai:

  1. Blend cold milk, cold water, cacao or cocoa powder, thandai paste, and honey in a blender or a mixing jar.
  2. Pour the blended mixture in the serving glasses.
  3. Add ice cubes.
  4. Sprinkle some grated chocolate or chocolate powder on top. You can even drizzle some chocolate sauce and garnish with few rose petals.
  5. Serve chilled!


  • The thandai paste will store well in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. When you start noticing the paste getting foul in smell or sight, please discard it.
  • If you wish to get powder instead of paste then avoid soaking the ingredients and roast them over low heat setting in a non-stick pan or oven. And blend with the rest of the ingredients.
  • You can reduce or increase the quantity of thandai paste as per your liking and need. Roughly 1 tablespoon per person works best but you can go with the quantity that suits you.
  • You can adjust the quantity of milk and water also as per your need. I prefer to add a cup of milk and top the remaining part of the glass with water and ice cubes.
  • I made the thandai paste without sugar since everyone has different needs when it comes to sweetness. Again sweeten things up as per your or your guests' likings.
  • Customise flavors as per your liking. Use fruit purees like mango, guava, banana, strawberry, or any other fruit of choice. Just blend the pureed fruit with milk and thandai paste or powder.
  • Thandai tastes best when it is fresh and cold. That's why I recommend making thandai paste or powder in advance and then make it fresh at the time it is supposed to be consumed.

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