Thandai for Holi

The full moon in the month of March marks the Indian festival of Holi. The festival of unity and happiness. My fond memories of Holi are playing with my uncles and aunts at my grandmom’s house. Gulal or as we call in Bengali, “aabir” covered sidewalks and of course the huge brass pichkari my uncle gifted me.
As an adult, and after moving to Texas, Holi has become a more personal affair. Most of the years, Holi is celebrated on a weekday, but for us here, we play Holi on a weekend in our backyard.
The home made sweets that my grandma used to make have been replaced with store bought samosas and beers for our Holi party, but this year even with the coronavirus scare we decided to play with some friends. And, I braved myself to make some thandai, not the one mixed with bhang :), but the virgin version with all the flavors.

It turned out amazing. And I was surprised by the very little effort I had to do to make this recipe.
Hope you all are having a very Happy Holi.

1 gallon whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
10-15 green cardamom
2 tablespoon rose petals, extra for garnish
2 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/2 cup almond
2 tablespoon poppy powder
Few strands of saffron
Yellow food color (optional)
Few pistachios for garnish

In a thick bottom pan pour the whole milk and simmer in low flame, till its reduced to three-quarters, continue to stir to make sure the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom
In a spice grinder, ground the all the ingredients except saffron separately. Once the milk has started to simmer, lower the flame to minimum and add the nuts powder along with the poppy paste and fennel powder, keep on stirring. Stir for a few minutes
Then add the peppercorn, fennel and rose petal powder. Stir for a couple more minutes making sure there are no lumps. Now, add the sugar and stir till its completely dissolves.
Turn off the gas and add the saffron strands. The milk should have a nice yellow tinge, if you want a darker yellow color, add more saffron or alternatively add yellow food color.
Cool it down completely. You can store it in an air tight container for 3 days in refrigerator.
Serve with ice cubes, garnished with rose petals and pistachios

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