Thandai/Almond Fennel Cardamom and Saffron Thandai Mix / Cooling Thandai drink
Thandai or the milk flavoured with almonds, fennel, cardamom, Rose and saffron. A traditional festive drink. Mention of Thandai brings a frame full of colours in mind, as Thandai is traditionally served during the celebrations of the Holi festival. A tall glass of this flavorful rich milk based drink is what guests are greeted with. Holi also marks the onset of summers in northern India, So Thandai serves as an apt cooling festive drink. Thandai as its name suggests means Thandai.. or Cool , Thandai means a cooling drink.
Around the same time of the year comes the festival of Maha Shivaratri. And this festival is celebration for Lord Shiva, whose favourite drink is also mentioned as Thandai in regional texts. Only difference is that Thandai is made a bit bolder by adding the Calatropis leaves to it. It is called Bhaang Thandai, and is a bit intoxicated form of Thandai if it is consumed in large quantities. On my trip to Varanasi, I got to see how they stone grind some fresh calatropis leaves and offer them with the famous Thandai in the city.
Actually speaking Thandia gained popularity or at least I remember It and its association with Bhaang, due to the popular Rajesh Khanna Song….” Jai JaI Shiv Shankar… from the bollywood movie Aap ki Kasam.
Thandai is a regular in my household around the onset of summers after Holi. Kids like to shake it up with milk and top it up with loads of ice. It gives a nutritious glass of goodness from almonds and other condiments like fennel cardamom etc.
I have also seen mom, making fresh Thandai paste with soaked almonds and soaked fennel, blending fennel with a lot of other elements and then making a paste. I realise if it is to be consumed once only around the festival then this kind of lengthy process can be adopted, but as it is a well accepted and popular drink at home and we consume it often in summers, I like to keep a readymade powder of Thandai handy.More so as I also somehow do not like the popularly available bottled syrup form of Thandai available in the market as I feel the flavours are mostly artificial and it is full of sugar, so putting things together is worth an effort and the purity and flavours brings the best out of it when consumed.
Almonds as a nut is a versatile nut, Used in Indian Kitchens in almost all forms, Sliced, paste, desserts, garnish, extract, almond meal, almond milk, and so on, but the soaked form of almonds are said to be most beneficial. In this recipe, we are using whole almonds. while the fresh Thandai is made from soaked peeled almonds. Though the flavours remain same, one can choose the method depending on the factors like ease, time available at hand. The powdered form stays good for a month in refrigeration, I suggest not to store during the humid months for long.
Thandai powder is a great supplement to your child’s milk as it provides a great brain tonic. Also, the powder can add tonnes of flavours to a Shahi gravy, or desserts like kulfi ( frozen dessert), cheesecakes etc.