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Thandai- the delicious milk shake from Benares

Updated on April 3, 2010
Thandai served in a glass
Thandai served in a glass
Fennel or Saunf that gives it its characteristic flavor
Fennel or Saunf that gives it its characteristic flavor

 ‘Thandai’ is a popular and nutritious drink that is consumed in the North of India.  It is most often associated with the festival Holi.  Thandai is a cold milk shake of nuts and spices blended to perfection resulting in a perfectly enjoyable milk drink.

Bhang  Thandai'  is popular in many parts of North India during the festival of colors Holi.  It is blended by mixing bhang with thandai . Later, a coin, ring or other small object made of copper is struck several times on a stone and dropped into the thandai.  Associated with Lord Shiva, bhang has now become synonymous with the festival of colors -Holi.   Bhang was first used as an intoxicant in India around 1000 BC and soon became an integral part of Hindu culture. In the ancient text Artharvaveda, Bhang is described as a beneficial herb that "releases anxiety". Bhang preparations were sacred to Lord  Shiva due to its transcendental properties.
Many sadhus use Bhang to boost meditation and achieve transcendental statesakin to Lord Shiva. Besides, Bhang or cannabis is also believed to be popular amongst Sufis as an aid to spiritual ecstasy since ancient times.  

 Bhang has become symbolic as an omen of success.  People also strongly believe in the medicinal properties of the hemp plant. If taken in proper quantity bhang cures fever, dysentery and sunstroke.  Besides, it  sharpens the intellect and gives alertness to the body and gaiety to the mind.

Thandai without  bhang is a more popular drink which can be easily prepared as follows-  You will need- 1.       Whole Almonds soaked overnight with skins removed -¼  Cup; . Pumpkin seeds Hulled: ¼  Cup(soaked)  ;. Watermelon seeds Hulled- ¼  Cup (soaked);  Cantaloupe seeds Hulled: ¼  Cup(soaked);  Black Peppercorn: 1 teaspoon ;  Sugar: ¼  Cup  1 Tb of  soaked raisins ; Milk: 2 Quarts; Soaked or fresh 1 teaspoon fennel seeds  ; ¼ tsp powdered cardamom powder ;  A few flakes of saffron

Method- Blend the sugar,nuts,seeds,peppercorns, cardamom,  fennel seeds, raisins  and saffron to a smooth paste.  Then add in 6-8 icecubes  and milk and blend into a smooth milkshake . Keep it in the refrigerator for atleast 6-8 hours for the flavors and aromas of all the condiments to heighten and lend their sharp taste.  Enjoy your non narcotic bhang.  A truly healthy and nutritious milk drink.


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