Thandai (Sardai) – The gorgeous combination of nuts, seeds and aromatic spices is the base of this traditional drink. It’s definitely a refreshing drink, and an ultimate treat for summer.
At the moment, my fridge is overstocked with everything icy cold. We’re officially gliding slowly into fall (autumn) in this part of the world. And I’ve already made several batches of this mango lassi and these semiya popsicles over the past few months of summer.
Even though the evenings are getting cooler, the days are still hot. And I think there’s no perfect time to share a very traditional drink that’s usually served during the Indian festival of holi. Thandai. You know, I’m totally excited about this recipe that focuses on healthy ingredients like nuts, seeds, and spices.
The entire process of making this refreshing cool drink is pretty simple. Make thandai masala and add into saffron flavored milk.
Before you make the masala, let all the ingredients soak for few hours so they’ll become soft and easy to process. You can either soak them separately like I did, or in one bowl. You might also want to plan ahead to allow ample time for the nuts to soak in warm water. Soak for at least 5-6 hours, and grind to a smooth paste. We’re looking for a very smooth texture so the masala will blend into the milk to get a rich flowing consistency.
Boil the milk with a few strands of saffron, ground cardamom and gulkhand. Saffron gives a yellow hue to thandai while gulkhand or rose petal paste imparts a beautiful aroma. Gulkhand is readily available from Indian grocery stores. Sub with rose water if it’s not available. A little bit of sugar adds more sweetness to the milk. Again, it’s totally optional in this recipe.
To prepare thandai, stir in 2 heaped tablespoons of masala to a glass of thandai, add a few ice cubes and enjoy. When it’s warmer, store in the refrigerator and serve chilled. In cooler months, replace hot chocolate with this flavorful drink, and warm up your soul.