Thandai and its Roots
Thandai also known as Shardai or Sardai, is an Indian cold drink prepared with a mixture of almonds, fennel seeds, watermelon kernels, rose petals, pepper, poppy seeds, cardamom, saffron, khus, pistachios and sugar, mixed in the milk. In the northern states of the country, the temperature gets quite high during summers. Thandai literally translating to something that cools, hence, to soothe one’s body temperature, the spiced milk beverage provides instant energy & coolness during the hot hours. Thandai being very flavourful, healthy, and tasty, it is also popular in certain regions of Pakistan.
Holi, which falls in the Hindu month of Phalgun, is a celebration of the end of the winter and the arrival of fertile spring that symbolizes new life. Thandai is synonymous with the festival of colours, where we make sure to indulge in a glass of chilled, heavenly beverage, where we can actually feel the coarseness of nuts and seeds in our mouth. It is usually consumed when people are exhausted after playing with colours. Among different types of Thandai, the most famous is the one where bhang is one of the ingredients. Laced with bhang, Thandai was offered to Lord Shiva. Hence the drink is also prepared as an offering to Lord Shiva during Mahashivratri. Bhang Thandai is an intoxicating drink, prepared with the flower heads and buds of cannabis, which works as a mood setter to make one sing, dance and have a good time.
As kids, we were not allowed to drink the Bhang Thandai, yet we experienced happiness, energy and enjoyed more than the adults. The luscious thirst quencher is packed with a number of health benefits. It provides instant energy, boosts immunity, helps fight infection, detoxifies the body, aids in digestion, reduces inflammation and helps cool the body from inside. On average a glass full of Thandai contains lesser calories than a milkshake. Some of the ingredients of Thandai are also known to regulate cholesterol and are rich source of Vitamin E. During the months of heat, this desi drink knocks out any other cold drink in terms of health and taste, and every generation seems to love its taste.