Thandai Recipe (Flavored Spiced Drink)

Step by StepJump to Recipe

An easy Thandai recipe that is refreshing, healthy and delicious. Make this traditional thandai or shardai during summers or the Holi festival for a cooling, nutty, spiced drink. I share the recipe with both a video and a step-by-step photo guide.

thandai, thandai recipe

What is Thandai

Thandai is a traditional drink, popular in the northern parts of India. It is made with a mix of nuts, seeds and a few spices.

The word “thandai” means that which is cooling or cools and is derived from the word “thanda” which means “cool”or “cold” in Hindi language. It is also known as ‘shardai‘ or ‘sardai‘.

So as the name is, this beverage is cooling for the body. Some of the nuts, seeds, spices that make the thandai or shardai are cooling in nature like water-soaked almonds, poppy seeds, rose petals or gulkand (rose preserve) and fennel seeds.

Thandai has a nutty milky taste. It has a heady aroma and sweet scented flavors of the rose, cardamom and saffron coupled together with a some hits of pungency from the black pepper.

Thandai is one of those drinks that is made during Holi Festival and Mahashivratri. Bhang (cannabis) thandai is also consumed during both these festivals.

We have had bhaang thandai during one Mahashivratri festival while on a spiritual tour in Banaras and Rishikesh.

About This Recipe

My thandai recipe is very easy to prepare. Simply soak the nuts, blend them and mix with milk or water.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can make ahead the thandai paste and refrigerate for a week or freeze it for 1 to 2 months.

When you want to make the shardai or thandai drink, mix the paste with milk and your cooling glass of thandai drink is ready.

This thandai recipe easily serves 8 to 9 glasses of the drink. It is easily scalable and you can make a small or large batch.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Thandai

Soaking Nuts, Seeds

Before you begin making the thandai recipe, ensure that your nuts, seeds and spices are fresh and not rancid.

1. In a bowl, pour 1 cup of warm water.

water being poured in a glass bowl placed on a bright light blue board

2. Then add 3 tablespoons almonds, preferably rinsed.

Note: You can opt to use peeled almonds if you prefer. Simply blanch the almonds in a separate bowl in hot water for 30 minutes and later peel them.

almonds added in a glass bowl placed on a bright light blue board

3. Next add 2 heaped tablespoons pistachios (unsalted), preferably rinsed. Instead of pistachios, you can also use cashews.

pistachios in a glass bowl placed on a bright light blue board

4. Then add 2 tablespoons white poppy seeds (khus khus). Omit if you do not have these tiny white seeds.

poppy seeds floating on water in a glass bowl placed on a bright light blue board

5. Next add ¼ cup melon seeds (magaz or kharbuja beej). You can omit these seeds if you do not have them or as an alternative use peeled pumpkin seeds (unsalted).

melon seeds floating on water in a glass bowl placed on a bright light blue board

6. The next ingredient to be added is 2 tablespoons dried rose petals.

If you do not have dried rose petals, then add 2 tablespoons rose water or 2 tablespoons gulkand. If you plan to add gulkand, reduce the sugar to ⅓ cup in the recipe.

dried rose petals on top of melon seeds floating in a glass bowl placed on a bright light blue board

7. Add 1 tablespoon fennel seeds.

fennel seeds on top of rose petals floating in a glass bowl placed on a bright light blue board

8. Then add ½ teaspoon whole black pepper.

black pepper to the thandai mixture in a glass bowl placed on a bright light blue board

9. Mix very well. Cover and keep aside for minimum one hour or 2 hours. if you use water at room temperature, then you can also keep overnight or for 4 to 5 hours.

mixed the nuts, seeds and spices in water in a glass bowl placed on a bright light blue board

10. In the below photo the thandai mixture after 90 minutes.

soaked thandai mixture

Making Thandai Paste

11. Now pour the whole mixture including the soaking water in a grinder or blender jar. Do make sure to use a good grinder or blender.

thandai mixture of soaked nuts, seeds and spices added in a blender

12. Add ½ cup sugar.

sugar in the blender

13. Then add seeds from 3 to 4 green cardamoms.

green cardamom seeds being added with a measuring spoon

14. Next add 1 pinch saffron. Saffron is optional and you can skip it.

saffron being added in a small white spoon

15. Grind the mixture to a very smooth and fine paste. Remove in a bowl and keep aside.

You can cover and refrigerate if not using immediately. No need to add extra water while grinding.

ground thandai paste in the blender

Making Thandai Drink

17. Take 4 tablespoons of the thandai paste in a glass. You can add less or more as per your requirements.

thandai paste being added into a glass with a measuring spoon

18. Add 1 cup of cold or chilled milk. You can also use half-half combination of milk and water. You can use almond milk instead of milk.

For some fruity variations follow these steps:

  1. Mango Thandai: Include ¼ to ⅓ cup mango pulp for a mango thandai recipe before adding the milk as needed. Taste and add more milk if required.
  2. Strawberry Thandai: Add ¼ to ⅓ cup of crushed or pureed strawberries.
  3. Litchi Thandai: Mix in ⅓ to ½ cup of litchi puree. To make litchi puree simply blend peeled litchi in a blender.
  4. Chocolate Thandai: Dissolve 1 to 2 tablespoons of drinking chocolate with the milk and thandai paste. Taste and add more sugar if needed.
milk being poured

19. Mix very well.

thandai paste being mixed with milk

20. Add a few ice cubes.

two ice cubes floating on the thandai drink

21. Garnish with rose petals and serve. You can also garnish with some chopped almonds or pistachios.

thandai drink being garnished with rose petals

Serving Suggestions

22. Prepare the thandai drink and serve it straight away. Alternatively, make the shardai or thandai drink in a large mug or jug. Refrigerate and then serve chilled.

While serving later, mix and stir the drink in the mug or jar and then pour in glasses.

thandai garnished with rose petals in two glass jars with a small glass jar of milk in the background on a bright blue board

Storage

The thandai paste keeps well refrigerated for about a week and frozen for about a month. Keep it in a covered container in your refrigerator or freezer.

Later thaw if frozen and mix the paste with chilled milk. Garnish with nuts and serve.

This shardai or thandai recipes makes for 8 to 9 glasses. The recipe is scalable and you can make a small batch or a large batch for a crowd.

Tips

Expert Tips

  • Nuts: Traditionally almonds and pistachios are included. Swap cashews with pistachios. For pistachios do not use the 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: Both poppy seeds and melon seeds are essential to the recipe. Due to their unavailability, omit adding these seeds. Replace melon seeds with unsalted peeled pumpkin seeds. Note that the flavor 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 flavors: Add gulkand (rose petals preserve) or rose water in place of dried rose petals. When adding gulkand reduce the sugar to ⅓ cup in the recipe.. 
  • Thandai paste consistency: Blend or grind the paste very finely, especially if preparing for kids. You can even strain the thandai paste if you want. 

Few more Indian Drinks for You!

If you made this recipe, please be sure to rate it in the recipe card below. Sign Up for my email newsletter or you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest or Twitter for more vegetarian inspirations.

thandai recipe garnished with rose petals in two glass jars with a small glass jar of milk in the background on a bright blue board

Thandai Recipe

4.84 from 12 votes
Thandai is a traditional cooling drink, popular in the northern parts of India. It is made with a mix of nuts, seeds and a few spices.
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins

Cuisine North Indian
Course: Beverages
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 8 glasses
Units

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons almonds – 30 grams, rinsed
  • 2 heaped tablespoons pistachios – 20 grams, unsalted and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds white, (khus khus)
  • ¼ cup melon seeds – 30 grams
  • 2 tablespoons dried rose petals or 2 tablespoons rose water or 2 tablespoons gulkand
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole black pepper
  • 3 to 4 green cardamoms – husks removed and seeds kept
  • 1 pinch saffron – optional
  • ½ cup sugar – 100 grams
  • 8 cups cold milk or as needed
  • ice cubes as required
  • few rose petals or chopped almonds or pistachios for garnish

Instructions

Soaking nuts and seeds

  • In a bowl, pour 1 cup warm water.
  • Then add almonds, pistachios, poppy seeds (khus khus), melon seeds, dried rose petals, fennel seeds and black pepper. 
  • Mix very well. Cover and keep aside for minimum one hour or two hours. If you use water at room temperature, then you can also keep overnight or for 4 to 5 hours.

Making thandai paste

  • After 1 to 2 hours, pour the whole mixture including the soaking water in a grinder or blender jar. Do make sure to use a good grinder or blender.
  • Add ½ cup sugar, seeds from 3 to 4 green cardamoms and 1 pinch of saffron. 
  • Blend the mixture to a very smooth and fine paste. Remove in a bowl and keep aside. You can cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

Making thandai recipe

  • To prepare thandai, take about 4 tablespoons of the thandai paste in a glass. You can add less or more thandai paste as needed.
  • Add chilled milk. You can also use half-half combination of milk and water.
  • Mix very well.
  • Add a few ice cubes.
  • Garnish with rose petals. You can also garnish with some chopped almonds or pistachios.
  • Serve thandai immediately. Alternatively, you can prepare the thandai drink in a large mug or jug. Refrigerate and then serve.

Storage

  • For make ahead, store the thandai paste keeps for a week in the refrigerator.

Video

Notes

Recipe Notes

  • Nuts: Traditionally almonds and pistachios are included. Swap cashews with pistachios. For pistachios do not use the salted ones.
  • Rose flavors: If using gulkand (rose petals preserve), then reduce the sugar to ⅓ cup. Or add 2 tablespoons rose water. 
  • Thandai paste consistency: Grind the paste very finely, especially if preparing for kids. You can even strain the thandai paste if you want. 
  • Peeling almonds: You can use peeled almonds if you want. Just blanch the almonds separately and then peel them.
  • Vegan option: Use almond milk, cashew milk or lite coconut milk. Almond milk is a better choice for this recipe. 
  • Seeds: Skip poppy seeds and melon seeds if they are not available in your country. You can replace melon seeds with unsalted peeled pumpkin seeds. 

Flavorful Variations

  • Mango Thandai: Add ¼ to ⅓ cup mango pulp with the thandai paste and milk. Mix well. Taste and add more milk if needed.
  • Strawberry Thandai: Mix in ¼ to ⅓ cup of crushed or pureed strawberries.
  • Litchi Thandai: Include ⅓ to ½ cup of litchi puree. To make litchi puree simply blend peeled litchi in a blender.
  • Chocolate Thandai: Dissolve 1 to 2 tablespoons of drinking chocolate with the milk and thandai paste. Taste and add more sugar if needed.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Thandai Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 260 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 24mg8%
Sodium 109mg5%
Potassium 425mg12%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 25g28%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 399IU8%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Vitamin D 3µg20%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 1µg1%
Calcium 336mg34%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 18µg5%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 68mg17%
Phosphorus 293mg29%
Zinc 2mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Like our videos? Then do follow and subscribe to us on youtube to get the latest Recipe Video updates.

Tried this recipe?If you have made the recipe and liked it then do share the recipe link on facebook, twitter & pinterest. For instagram mention @dassanasvegrecipes and tag #dassanasvegrecipes!

Like this Recipe?
Pin it Now to Remember it Later

Pin Recipe Now

This thandai recipe from the blog archives (March 2017) has been republished and updated on 26 March 2021.

Share This Recipe:

PinWhatsAppPrintShares474

Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

Get My Secrets to Great Indian Food
Sign up for my FREE Beginners Guide to Delicious Indian Cooking

Comments are closed.

14 Comments

  1. Hello Mam
    I got Organic Palm sugar. Can you please suggest it’s usage. I added it in amla murabba and it got very sour in taste.

    And also can I use it in Ragi malt I learned from your site.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Mahek, I have already replied to your email with these queries a few days back. Kindly check your inbox. I have given a detailed reply.

See More Comments