Holi hai! Spring is in the air, the crops have been harvested, and its time for love, friendship and forgiveness, and the mending of broken relationships. Bring out your pichkaris (water guns) and your water balloons and your colours and get ready to have fun. But, here is what I wish to say. Be gentle, don’t hurt or harm, and be considerate to people who don’t enjoy being smeared with colour. And importantly, save water; water is a precious resource.

What is Holi without Thandai? The delicious drink is among the many eats and drinks customarily had on Holi. This recipe for Thandai is from the Milkmaid Gold Collection of 101 Desserts, a lovely, rare book that is from my cookbook collection and which I don’t think is available in markets any longer. Here is the recipe.


Serves 12


1/2 tin Milkmaid

1 1/2 litre milk

8 to 10 soaked and peeled almonds

5 to 6 peppercorns

3 to 4 cardamom pods

2 teaspoons fennel seeds or sauf

1 teaspoon poppy seed essence or khus khus essence

Crushed ice


Rose petals


1 Grind soaked and peeled almonds, cardamom and fennel seeds to a fine paste. Blend with other ingredients till well mixed. Strain.

2 Half fill each glass with crushed ice and top up with the above mixture.

3 Serve garnished with rose petals.

You can use 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds or khus khus in place of khus essence.


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