Two new ways with Thandai

It’s a quintessential Holi drink that chills and soothes, but two Gurugram chefs have a go at reinventing the entire Thandai concept here

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Thandai. The very term gives you ‘relax’ vibes, as you think of a refreshing drink. And yet, ‘Thandai desserts’ doesn’t exactly pop to mind as a thing!

Thandai is Hindi for ‘coolness’ – in its original meaning of ‘lowering of temperatures’, not, mind you, in its millennial/Gen Z meaning of interesting/fashionable/fun.

As a beverage, Thandai is a chilled drink made of milk infused with almonds, saffron and poppy seeds, consumed in the summer season in northern India.

It has a deep connect with the Festival of Colours Holi, possibly because it is the first time in the year it makes an appearance, as the north of India emerges out of winter and starts to warm up. As a refreshing drink, it is quite the favourite of Holi revellers looking for respite from the day’s (often boisterous) muck-up activities.

What else can you do with thandai though, other than savouring it as a soothing summer drink? Here’s a challenge that was thrown to two chefs in Gurugram, India, and look how they reinvented an old favourite into something ‘cool’ – and NOW we use the term for its new connotations of interesting/fun!

Thandai desserts, it turns out, can be cool both ways, but especially as a new way of looking at a traditional favourite.


By Kush Koli

Kush Koli is Head Chef at SAGA, Gurugram

Ingredients for the base

2 cups Parle G biscuits

5 tbsp melted butter

Ingredients for the custard mix

4 tbsp custard powder

3 cups milk

4 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp thandai powder (Use store-bought powder, or if you want to make your own, check here for recipe)

1 tbsp gulkand (rose petal preserve)

3 tbsp chopped dates


Crush down the cookies and add melted butter. Mix to ensure all the crumbs are coated well.

Take a small mason jar, and spread the cookie mix at the bottom, about a tbsp full. Pat it down tight, and then refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

In a small bowl combine custard powder and ¾ cup milk. In a saucepan over medium heat add 1 and ¼ cup milk, Thandai powder, gulkand, and sugar. Bring this to a slight boil and then pour in the custard mixture into the saucepan. Keep whisking till the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.

Take off the heat, and cool custard down to room temperature. Keep covered with a lid.

Once cooled, pour it into the prepared jars and layered with chopped dates.

Chill before serving.


By Shreya Kumari

Shreya Kumari is Pastry Chef at Nush Mush, Gurugram

Ingredients for cupcake

2/3 cup condensed milk

1/4 cup castor sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup milk

1.5 tbsp thandai powder

1 cup plain flour

½ tbsp baking powder

½ tbsp baking soda

Ingredients for frosting

½ cup thickened cream

1 tbsp thandai powder


Preheat oven to 170°C.

In a large bowl, whisk condensed milk and castor sugar together. Add melted butter to the mixture and whisk well for a minute.

In a small bowl, mix milk with thandai powder until there are no lumps. Add milk to the condensed milk mixture.

Sieve all the dry ingredients – plain flour, baking powder and baking soda. Fold into the wet ingredients.

Pipe the batter into cupcake moulds and bake at 170°C for 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk thickened cream with thandai powder until soft peaks form, and refrigerate.

After the cupcakes cool, pipe the cream over, and finish off with sliced pistachios.

For more thandai desserts, try a Thandai Pannacotta, Thandai cake or a Thandai mousse, perhaps?

READ ALSO: Holi recipes: something classic, something modern

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