Instant thandai masala

Instant Thandai masala mix.

Spend 10 minutes to get a jarful of instant thandai masala ready. Keep this thandai mix for festivals like Holi and Mahashivrathri or for a protein addition to the busy mornings. Are you ready to try it?

During India visits, my sis in law finds unique edible gifts for us. Last time around when my husband came back, there was a small jar of thandai mix. the ingredients were, no preservatives or additives and a lovely flavour. Throughout winter we loved stirring this in warm milk. The mix caught on to us well. Now that the bottle has been finished,  we made a batch at home. Honestly, I thought it was so complicated till I made this batch and to use it is as simple as scoop and stir. So here are the recipe details for you.

What is thandai masala powder?

Theandai is a cold drink popularised in the 1900s, especially in Northern India. Classic thandai or shardai is a paste of nuts and spices that are soft ground and mixed in milk. However, this is a time-consuming process. So, the thandai masala powder is a flavour-packed dry mix of the same ingredients like cashew nuts, pistachios, almonds, peppercorns, saffron, fennel seeds etc.

When is thandai mix made?

It is not yet Holi unless you have downed a couple of glasses of cold thandai milk. The festival of colours celebrates this nutty, fragrant drink.  This thandai mix is more like a milkshake and is not related to the bhang thandai made during the festival. Since the drink is associated with Lord Shiva and popularised as a religious offering it is made during Mahashivrathri too. Probably the drink became popular since it was a cold treat for the heat and kept you full for a longer time due to all the nuts and seeds in it.

Is thandai mix narcotic?

The nut-based milk when made traditionally has hemp leaves ground as a paste into it. This is the intoxicating drug bit. The nut oils and fats help to dissolve cannabinoids. This is the ingredient that makes it a drug. During holi, this is served as bhang thandai. However,  the thandai mix you make at home has no narcotics in it and can be safely consumed, unless you have nut allergies.

Can thandai mix only be used in milk?

Thandai masala powder is often mixed with milk to consume. However, the nut and spice mix can be added to many other preparations to add a lot of flavour. A scoop of thandai mix in cupcakes, cheesecakes or cakes , tastes lovely and fragrant with the cardamom and rose petals. The mix can be added to ice cream and kulfis for a chilled treat. You can add some to the ladoo mix to make thandai ladoos. Here is my quirky hack, I scoop the mix over warm oatmeal to give it flavour and enjoy it along with a mix of berries. Hope you like these ideas too.

Ingredients to make thandai masala

Thandai masala mix is a good mix of seeds and nuts crushed with aromatics like saffron, fennel and rose petals. However, it is not easily mixable with milk to make it an instant mix. Hence, the added milk powder makes it more miscible.

Nuts and seeds: I have used a mix of almonds, cashews and pistachios to make this batch. Along with this The white poppy seeds and melon seeds make a tasty mix. The last two are usually available in Indian grocery stores. However, poppy seeds can be banned in certain countries. So, they can be skipped if you are unable to get them. As for the nuts you can use what you have at hand. 

Spices and aromatics: This is kind of an unusual mix. The green cardamom, fennel seeds, black peppercorns and rose petals give the classic thandai flavour to this dish. I have added saffron strands to this combo. The yellow colour is from the turmeric powder I have added. This is just optional and not a requirement to make this mix. 

Milk powder: The entire mix is not easily miscible easily in milk. So, the milk powder helps to evenly mix the mix in cold or warm milk. 

Let’s make thandai masala

The thandai masala is a fantastic stock to keep and gets done in just a few steps. 

Roasting the nuts and seeds: The nuts and seeds when roasted provide a fantastic aroma to the whole mix. Lightly roast them on low heat one type a a time as each of the nuts and seeds has a different heat tolerance. Remove them from heat and cool them. 

Grinding the mix: When the nuts and seeds are being powdered ensure they are pulsed with short intervals. This keeps them from releasing the oil content in them providing a dry mix than a sticky one. Once the nuts and seeds are pulsed, add the aromatics and pulse again till it forms a homogenous mix. 

How to make thandai milk with this instant mix?

To make the thandai drink it is as simple as scoop and stir. A tablespoon of the mix stirred in a cold glass of milk is all that you need to do to make this drink. I do find that the mix is better stirred in with a froth or mixed with a bit of warm milk before cold milk is poured in. You can add a couple of saffron strands or rose petals to top the glass of thandai.

Can the drink be made vegan?

The milk of choice is yours. The instant thandai mix we have made is vegan as it only has nuts, seeds and a few spices. You can mix this in cold almond milk, soy milk or oat milk to make your drink. I find almond milk the best suited as the others are a bit thinner. I avoid coconut milk here as it reminds me more of South Indian flavours.

Storing the mix

The mix stays well for a month or two in an airtight container. Use a clean dried spoon to extract the powder or leave a scoop in your jar. The spice slightly tones down over time. If you live in hot humid regions, store the mix in the fridge to reduce rancidity.

Instant thandai masala mix

Spend 10 minutes to get a jarful of instant thandai masala ready. Keep this thandai mix for festivals like Holi and Mahashrivrathri or for a protein addition to the busy mornings. Are you ready to try it?
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Drinks, Sweets and savories
Cuisine Indian
Servings 1 small bottle


  • frying pan


  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 2 tbsp melon seeds
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tbsp dry rose petals
  • 2 tbsp fennel seed
  • 20-25 Black pepper
  • 20 green cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 15 saffron
  • 1/2 cup milk powder


  • Set the frying pan on a low heat.
  • Roast the almonds, followed by the cashew nuts and pistachio.
  • Roast till they snap or crush easily.
  • Roast the poppy seeds till they pop a bit and the add the melon seeds.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • Once cooled, pulse the nuts and seeds and then the aromatics along with it.
  • Mix in the milk powder and turmeric powder.
  • Scoop into clean dry bottles and store in an airtight manner.
Keyword festival offerings, Indian drink recipes, Spice blends
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recipes that you can try at Holi

There are a few recipes we like to make during holi, Sharing them here for you.

Peanut ladoos

Sweet potato kheer

Kesar doodh

Puri thali

Stay connected

Hope you enjoy this Holi with a chilled glass of instant thandai and lots of Gulal (colour). When you make your batch using our recipe, share with us how that experience was. If you don’t like the amount of peppercorns,  reduce it and let us know if that was better in the comments below.
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Thandai masala mix.

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Priya Srinivasan
1 month ago
Rating :

Look at that gorgeous color of the thandai masala! Beautiful seema! I have never made thandai masala at home, looking for one without poppy seeds, glad i landed here, i will make this and the list of delish treats that can be made with this masala is even more tempting!

Mayuri Patel
1 month ago
Rating :

Just made my instant thandai masala mix today. All ready to serve chilled thandai drinks on Holi day:) Thanks for the suggestion of different milks one can use.. useful as my daughter in law cannot consume dairy products.Almond milk sounds good.

Sarika (Spice Zone)
29 days ago

Seema, thandai spice mix looks so festive. I have never added turmeric, like the addition turmeric with added health benefits. Will add turmeric next time I make it.

28 days ago
Rating :

The colour and everything nice that goes into making this Thandai powder makes me want to make a batch and keep it handy ! love colour there, Seema

Priya Vj
6 days ago
Rating :

Whether Holi or not ,this thandai mix is quite a keeper to whip up some delicious chilled drink for unexpected guests. I made a small batch and all of us at home loved it .

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