Nut milks are not new to India... we've been drinking them for many many years now. Badam (almond) milk and thandai (cooling nut milk) are an integral part of North-Indian cuisine. While cold badam milk is had in the summers, hot badam milk is had in the winters. Thandai, on the other hand, is mostly made during Maha Shivratri and Holi around the onset of spring.
In my parent's home, thandai (we call it 'thaadal') is made throughout the summer to cool the body down. It is also made every Monday during the holy period of July to October (chaumasa - four months) when women fast every Monday and gather to pray to Lord Shiva. Since Lord Shiva loves this drink, it is offered to him during the pooja (prayers). After the pooja, everyone gets a bottle of thandai to take home and share with their family. I LOVE THANDAI and want to share it with you. I have added a twist to it by using chamomile to make it even more cooling and calming! Enjoy!
Almonds - 1/2 cup
Poppy seeds/Khus Khus - 1/4 cup
Black pepper - 1.5 tsp.
Fennel seeds - 1/2 tbsp.
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp.
Green cardamom - 3/4 tbsp.
Chamomile (dried) - 2 tbsp.
Cane sugar/Maple syrup - 1/4 cup
Water - 3 cups
Soak the poppy seeds in a cup of water.
Soak the remaining ingredients except chamomile and sugar/maple syrup in a cup of water.
Let the ingredients soak for 4-5 hours or overnight. I soak the ingredients overnight.
After 4-5 hours/overnight, strain the poppy seeds, and grind them in a Magic Bullet (small cup) or an Indian mixer-grinder with 1/4 cup water till you get a smooth paste.
Strain the almond mixture and discard the strained water.
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. When it boils, add the dried chamomile to it and let it steep for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, strain the tea and leave it aside to cool down.
Now, add 2 cups of water, and sugar/maple syrup, and blend the mixture in a high-speed blender till you get a smooth mixture.
Add the poppy seed paste and blend some more.
Strain the thandai through a nut-milk bag or cheese cloth (layered twice).
Add the cooled chamomile tea to the thandai.
Enjoy it cold or at room temperature.
Every single ingredient in the thandai is cooling in nature, except the black pepper which is used to balance the excess cooling nature of this drink. I made some changes to the original recipe, which calls for a little bit of milk. The sugar is boiled in water before being used in the thandai. I've used it as is. Sugar is cooling in the summers, so it's a good idea to have some of it... make sure you have sugar in moderation and not in excess. We also use something called magaz (melon seeds) in the thandai. I haven't used it.
NOTE: The taste of Sindhi thandai is slightly different from regular North-Indian thandai because we use cumin (very cooling spice). So, I suggest you make a small batch. If you like it, make more. If the cumin is too much for you, leave it out. I've added chamomile to the thandai because of it's cooling and calming nature, which is great to combat irritation and anger in the summer months. You can use rose petals instead.