When the daily bustling and hustling makes every soul tired and wishing for a holiday, the only question knocking on the door is, “Holi kab hai?”
Why Holi, you may ask! It's the first festival of the year, and it can be referred to as the "ribbon cutter" of the year's festivities. Just as our March would be incomplete without a splash of color and the spirit of Holi, our Holi, too, would be incomplete without thandai. The combination of Holi and thandai is a match made in heaven. As a small FAQ, The thandai is often a drink laced with bhang, a hallucinogen with medicinal qualities that go back to 1000 BC when Lord Shiva tasted it. That’s why it is such a popular drink during Mahashivratri. Thandai is considered to be the oldest drink in our country, can you imagine it?
The country's temperature can reach dangerously high levels throughout the summer. As a result, bhang is frequently added to beverages such as thandai to help people cool down while playing in the scorching March heat. Thandai is a healthier alternative to traditional milkshakes, with fewer calories. It helps to cool the body and improves intestinal health in general. Most of Thandai's ingredients are well-known for their health advantages. Fennel seeds have antioxidants, anti-flatulence, and cooling effects; rose petals have digestive properties, and almonds are strong in Vitamin E and have cholesterol-lowering capabilities. Now you get it, from where do people get the energy to dance all day, without a sweat? From dancing, I hope you remember those iconic Holi songs. No? Let’s catch up then!
“Holi ke din dil khil jaate hain, rangon mein rang mil jaate hain”, “Raang barse…”
Whenever these songs are played on loop in every locality, you know it’s the season of colors. Holi, the name itself emits a zing of excitement in all of our minds- a zeal to throw colored powder into the air and splash them on others because bura na mano Holi hai, and a thrill to safeguard, especially those in white. Holi brings in a wave of delight since the celebration has no start, no end; it’s impossible to keep the children at home for long, the adults too join the fiesta.
The preparation for Holi usually begins from the night before, after all, who can even hold the excitement for long? Keeping the water balloons ready, buying pichkari which has to be similar to that of the best friend’s, collecting all colors of perfumed powder (abeer) so that nothing gets missed out… doesn’t all these ring a bell of nostalgia?
After being done and dusted, quite literally as your body gives up, the thought which keeps circling, let me guess, is somewhat like “If only someone can offer me a cool beverage…” Right at that moment, a tray of glasses is bound to change your mood- to revive, refresh, and revitalize. A cooling drink to shelter you from the intense heat. A beverage to not just cool you down or quench your thirst, but to energize and revitalize your mood. That’s when the ultimate Holi drink takes the center stage, of course, not all heroes wear a cape, right?
Thandai, or ‘a relief from heat’, is the most cherished drink to those who immerse themselves completely in the ripples of Holi. The refreshing power of thandai along with scrumptious gujiya scales up the drained spirits by painting them in colors again. Thandai is originally made by meticulously mixing warm water, dry fruits, pepper, cardamom powder, khus-khus, fennel seed powder, almond or cashew, and rose petals with the addition of pistachios and melon seeds. These should be blended into a fine paste and then kept at a lower temperature. Cold milk needs to be added after some time.
This set recipe has experienced many swaps and changes. Every so often, people are experimenting with ingredients to unearth something new out of the old. Bhang is a challenging substance that not everyone likes to consume. Especially if the event is formal. And in that direction, four exciting discoveries, without bhang, have been found which are increasingly becoming everyone’s favorite. Let’s see how these can be made at home for your upcoming Holi party!
Ice Tea Thandai
To beat the summer heat, whenever we walk out of our homes to visit the newest café in town, the only beverage that strikes our mind is a chilled glass of ice tea. Lemon, peach, watermelon, whatever be the preference, it’s available in all. So, why not include it with the Holi special?
2 Assam tea bags
½ tablespoon of green cardamom powder
7 grounded black pepper
2 tablespoons of poppy seeds
3 tablespoons of ground sugar
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
¼ cup of crushed almonds
Few strands, favorably 2 pinches of saffron
- Drop the tea bags after heating water in a flask.
- Add the mixture of almonds, green cardamom, poppy, and fennel seeds.
- Mix the ground sugar and black pepper for a sweet-sour taste.
- Place the saffron strands on top for great color and enhanced flavor.
- Strain the liquid and serve it with ice cubes.
Nestip: After preparing and dividing the liquid into glasses, set them in the refrigerator for a chilled serving.
Thandai Panna Cotta
Take your favorite drink on a flight to Italy, and oh! Now you get yourself a lip-smacking dessert. Give a groove to our desi thandai by molding it into a semi-sphere panna cotta in just a few easy steps.
1/4 cup of cashews
1/4 cup of almonds
1/4 tablespoon of turmeric
1 tablespoon of cardamom powder
1/4 cup of pistachios
3 black peppercorns
1/4 tablespoon of ground nutmeg (jaiphal)
1 tablespoon of milk powder
A pinch of saffron
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 agar-agar powder
- On a low burner, dry roast nuts in a pot for 3-4 minutes. Roast the saffron strands for 30 seconds in the pot. Allow more time for the nuts and saffron to rest.
- To make a fine powder, blend all of the ingredients in a mixer, including the nuts and saffron.
- On medium-high heat, add heavy cream and thandai masala to a heavy bottom saucepan and bring to a simmer. Repeatedly whisk in the agar-agar until the cream begins to boil. Then cook for an additional 2 minutes on low heat. Throughout the procedure, keep whisking.
- Pour cream into your mould or cup.
- Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. If you use a mold, just gently pop the panna cotta out of the mold and place it onto your serving plate. Spread some sweet strawberry sauce on the top and sides for an eccentric taste. Garnish with additional mint leaves, strawberries and enjoy!
Nestip: It’s preferable to keep a semi-sphere mould at home than using cups or other containers to reduce the hassle.
Thandai Mousse (...with a twist)
Mousse is more or less everyone’s favorite dessert. Going for a dinner date or just a family brunch? Mousse is a mandate for all occasions. The creamy layers elevate the taste buds to a height worth remembering. What will happen if the thandai powder and mousse join forces? No, no, no! I won’t disclose the twist so soon. Let’s find out together, shall we?
3/4 cup heavy cream left to be chilled.
3 oz white chocolate chopped which will ideally fill up half of the cup.
3 oz cream cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons thandai powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Flakes of white chocolate
Dried rose buds
- Chill the wire whisk attachment and the bowl for 15 to 20 minutes before whipping the cream. The cream should also be chilled. After that, pour the cream into the chilled bowl.
- Whip the heavy cream with the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer until it becomes firm. Place the whipped cream in a separate bowl and put it aside.
- Now, using a double boiler method, melt the white chocolate in a pan half-filled with water at medium-low heat. Lay a dish on top of the water-simmering pan with the chopped white chocolate (be sure to slice the chocolate into small pieces). The water in the pan below should be slightly bubbling (not boiling), and the bottom of the chocolate dish should not be in contact with the fluid.
- Whisk till the chocolate is fully melted. Then take the chocolate dish from the heat and set it aside to cool. You can use a microwave for softening the chocolate.
- Add cream cheese (room temperature), thandai powder, and icing sugar to the same bowl where the heavy cream is whisked. Using the paddle attachment of the mixer, beat until all are smooth, rich, and creamy.
- Then, into the mixer, drop in the melted (and gently cooled) white chocolate. Mix until it's all well blended. As needed, scrape the sides and bottom. Toss the whipped cream into the cream cheese and thandai mixture and fold it in. In three parts, add the whipped cream. Mix the cream using the cut and fold method after each addition, rotating your spatula in one direction.
- After that, pour the mousse into a piping bag, preferably with a round nozzle. Using the piping bag, pump the mousse into dessert glasses. Freeze for at least 2 hours before dishing.
Nestip: If the whipped cream is folded too rapidly, all the air will escape. So, fold softly. Also, please follow our previous recipe to get hold of DIY Thandai powder.
Thandai Tiramisu (Thandamisu)
The most adorable of all thandai discoveries, Thandamisu, has got its name from Nestasia’s ingenious team- might be called a thoughtful recipe because we have poured in all our thoughts into the name? No, no, not that nostalgic!
An extremely popular, delectable dessert with a desi tadka is bound to be the best-loved in no time. The thandai syrup, which is the star of the dish, is available in the market to ease kitchen time.
2 ¼ cup of flour
¼ cup of cornflour or starch
½ tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1 ½ of baking soda
1 ¾ cup of powdered sugar
1 ½ tablespoon of thandai spice mix
½ cup of khoya
½ cup of hunk yogurt
½ cup of cooking oil
1 cup of warm milk
1 tablespoon of thandai syrup
1 tablespoon of rose essence
100 grams of mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
¾ cup of whipped cream
- Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a sieve and put a large bowl underneath for the collection of the segregated mixture. Do the separation twice for aeration.
- Add the thandai spice mix, khoya, and blend it well. Keep the bowl aside.
- Pour the hung yogurt and cooking oil and whisk them well with an electric beater.
- Add the dry ingredients (the powder that was kept aside) in parts and use the cut and fold system to mix.
- Pour some warm milk into the mixture to soften, repeat the process while using the cut and fold system.
- Add the rose essence and mix well for 2 mins with the blender. Make sure not to overbeat.
- Add the thandai syrup and whisk it again.
- Use an 8” x 8” tin to bake the mixture. Pour the batter into it and tap to remove the bubbles.
- Preheat at 180°C for 10 mins and bake at 180°C for 25-30 mins.
- Mix water and rose essence in a cup.
- Take a smaller bowl. Pour some hung curd. Add the mascarpone cheese and use the blender to mix it well. Add the powdered sugar and thandai syrup. Mix it steadily and let it sit for an hour.
- After the baking is over, remove the hard (dark brown) part of the baked sponge. Cut its sides and divide it into two halves.
- Cut the sponge with a round cookie cutter. Cut some sponge circles.
- Take two fancy glasses. Put the crumbled sponge pieces in the glasses. Add some rose syrup. Use a piping bag to pour the tiramisu. Level it nicely. Put the round sponge cutouts and drip them with rose syrup. Repeat the process with bigger cutouts.
Nestip: Glass with a wide mouth is best suited for the final presentation if cocktail/mocktail glass is not available.
Now when you’re feeling quite charged up, let’s keep the party going? Spring is all about fun and frolic, which the colors heighten. So, this Holi, make sure you savor your fair share of fun, especially when the pandemic era is over (era, because it doesn’t feel like mere 2 years, does it?) Not to forget, keep the Thandai glasses rolling!