This year I am bringing the house down with loud music, friends and not the pretty me looks.
This Kesariya (saffron) Thandai aka cooling drink made during specially Holi has seeds, nuts and milk to keep things cool before it really gets hot upthere !! This homemade version is so much better than the bottled ones.
It is also known as ‘shardai‘ or ‘sardai‘.
Traditionally this Sherbet/drink was used to be grounded using a mortar and pestle, but now with high-speed blender things work just a little faster.
Here I have simplified the recipe which only involves soaking, blending, and straining. I have left out some ingredients as they are not available in Dubai but the taste hits the notes just right.
The use of peppercorn, almonds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds along with saffron, cardamom, and rose water makes ‘Thandai’ a very refreshing and delicious drink.
Few things to keep in mind while making this drink
- Nuts: Traditionally almonds and pistachios are included. Swap cashews with pistachios. For pistachios do not use salted ones. Make sure that the nuts, seeds, and spices you add are fresh and not rancid.
- Peeling almonds: You can use peeled almonds if you want. Just blanch the almonds separately in hot water for 30 minutes and then peel them.
- Seeds: Poppy seeds are essential to the recipe. Due to their unavailability in Dubai, I omitted adding this seed. Replace poppy seeds with white chia seeds. Note that the flavour and taste will change slightly.
- Vegan options: Swap with almond milk, cashew milk, or lite coconut milk for a vegan ‘Thandai’ or ‘Shardai’ Almond milk is a better choice here.
- Rose flavours: Add rose water for flavour. Fresh rose to decorate looks amazing in this recipe
Thandai paste consistency: Blend or grind the paste very finely, especially if preparing for kids. You should strain the Thandai paste for a smooth mixture and use the strained mixture in other desserts
This recipe can be made in advance and refrigerated. So if you have a holi party planned, make this ‘Thandai’ a day in advance and then just serve at your party.
For me, no Holi (festival)is complete without some homemade ‘Thandai’ so I am definitely going to make a pitcher full and enjoy it.
Kesariya (saffron) Thandai
- 1 liter Full-Fat Milk
- ½ cup Almonds
- 11/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon green cardamom around 5-6 pcs
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1/16 teaspoon food coloring lemon yellow or saffron( or skip it )
- 2 teaspoons chia seeds
- 4 teaspoons poppy seeds not available in Dubai so optional
- 1 teaspoon rosewater
- Sliced pistachio
- Fresh rose petals( just before serving)
- Crushed Ice (optional)
- Soak almonds in 500 ml of milk.
- To this add peppercorn, fennel seeds, and cardamom.
- Soak overnight.
- Blend in a high-speed blender.
- Strain in a strainer topped with cheesecloth.
- Collect all the milk and save the residue for later use in any dessert.
- Add the remaining 500 ml of milk.
- Add sugar, food coloring rose water and chia seeds, and some saffron.
- Chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Just before serving top fresh rose petals, saffron, sliced pistachio, and some crushed ice.
- Top tip
- Poppy seeds are not available in Dubai so you can leave them out.
- Food colour should be used in moderation as the colour grows after some time.
- Ice dilutes the flavour so chill the thandai before serving.
- Rose petals should be added just before serving.
- The leftover strained almond mixture can be used in desserts like kheer,rabri etc.
- I prefer rosewater from Dabur as the taste is very Indian or else any brand works fine. Rose edible essence can also be added and so can you add saffron essence( in case you are making big batches)
- Melon seeds or charmagaz can also be added in traditional recipes but I have always left it out and not missed the taste.
- I have swapped chia seeds with basil seeds but you could use sabja seeds if you prefer.
- Sugar is as per my taste you could increase or decrease it as per your taste.