Kesar Thandai

Holi, the festival of colours is here and the major highlight  of every festival in India is the food. Every festival has some traditional food being made specially on that day. For Holi, the traditional dishes are puranpoli, kesar thandai, shrikhand, malpuas etc.  

Thandai is a special drink made during festivals like Holi and Shivratri. Kesar Thandai is made by boiling milk with a mixture of dry fruits, fennel seeds, black pepper,fennel seeds, saffron etc.  Here goes the recipe.


1.5 litres milk (doodh)
10 to 15 almonds (badam)
10 to 15 cashew nuts (kaju)
10 to 15 pistachios (pista)
1 tbsp watermelon seeds (magaz)
2 tbsp fennel seeds (saunf)
1 tbsp poppy seeds (khuskhus)
1 tbsp black peppercorns (kali mirch)
½ cup of sugar  (cheeni)
A big pinch of saffron (kesar)
1 tsp of cardamom powder (elaichi powder)

For garnishing

Almond slivers (badam ke barik tukde)
Pistachio slivers (pista ke barik tukde)
Dried rose petals (gulab ke sookhe pankhudiya)


  • Soak almonds, cashewnuts, pistachios, watermelon seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, black peppercorns in a bowl of water, for 4 to 5 hours.
  • After 5 hours, drain the water  and grind all the ingredients to a fine paste.  This is the thandai masala.
  • In a bowl, take 2 tbsp warm milk.
  • Add a big pinch of saffron to it and keep it aside for an hour.
  • Heat the milk in a thick bottomed pan.
  • When the milk starts boiling, add sugar. 
  • Keep stirring till the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the thandai masala, and keep mixing till the masala blends well with the milk.
  • Add the saffron milk mixture, cardamom powder and give a good mix. 
  • Turn off the flame.
  • Allow the thandai to cool completely.
  • Refrigerate and serve chilled.
  • While serving, garnish the thandai with almond, pistachio slivers and dried rose petals.