-Tanisha Saxena | IMAWS
Imagine Holi or mahashivratri and besides spring and colors what else would come up in your mind? Thandai ofcourse. It’s a drink that occupies a special corner in everyone’s heart especially the North Indians. Thandai is that one delicacy without which we can’t think of Holi as it is a must-have drink on the festival. The milk-based dessert-like drink has a special place during the festival of colours; laced with nuts, spices and, occasionally, bhang.
In a nutshell, Thandai is a quintessential spring drink! While it’s easy to prepare at home, some iconic spots across the country serve irreparable thandai. We would all agree that sometimes it’s just that taste which we can’t replace no matter what we try. Similarly, thandai supremacy is reserved for some outstanding shops.
Pt. Raja ki Mash’hoor Thandai in Lucknow is unparalleled. Situated at Chowk, it is one of the most popular place to go to for thandai. People who look for special bhaang wali thandai, this is the spot. The shop is iconic and lived every inch of history. The shop is open all through the day, and Raja says he procures bhaang of the best kind. He says, “One has to be careful while mixing bhaang in thandai as it should be mildly laced. Otherwise one wouldn’t be able to enjoy the festival.” A large glass of thandai comes for Rs 50 while the smaller one is priced at Rs 40. For bhaang wali thandai, you will have to shell out anything between Rs. 60 to Rs. 75. Pandit Raja also tells that the shop is open from 10am and 10pm. He says, ”Thandai is an important part of Indian culture and especially in North India. Yes, it is assumed that thandai is Holi drink but trust me we have customers brimming all the time of the year. It has numerous health benefits too.”
Hira Sweets is another chain of mithai shop which has carved out a niche for itself in the market. As a Saying goes, “From humble beginnings, come great things.” nowhere else this expression is better exemplified than in the story of Pt. Hira Lal Sharma, the ‘master chef’ of our sweets industry. What bloomed as a small entrepreneurial dream in 1912, with only one outlet, in the outskirts of Delhi (Shahdara), the outlets has now blossomed into one of the largest sweets manufacturing facilities in our country.
While a gamut of sweets are available in the shop, thandai remains the most loved one. Pradeep kumar, Purchase and Store Cordinator at Hira Sweets elaborate, “When it comes to thandai and Holi, it has to be chilled aromatic thandai laced with dry fruits, khus syrup, saffron, desiccated coconut and of course a huge dollop of malai from Hira Sweets. It brings back fond childhood memories. Oh how can you miss our special badaam kesar thandai.”
When we talk about thandai it automatically becomes ‘Prasad’ as in Hinduism thandai or bhaang has roots in Shiva bhakti. Devotees associate the delicacy with Shiva and consequently thandai becomes a special or intrinsic part of the festival especially mahashivratri and Holi. Ujjain, an ancient city beside the Kshipra River in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is an important Hindu pilgrimage destination. Famous for the centuries-old Mahakaleshwar Temple. Shri Mahakaleshwar Bhaang Ghota is one of the most popular shop which is near to the temple.
Pandit Ji as the owner is popularly known mixed a handful of dry fruits and then again mixed glasses for about two minutes constantly to make the perfect glass of thandai. He tells, “I sing Bhajan while preparing the thandai and with mahakal blessings my shop has become one of the most famous thandai spot in the entire country. People don’t need an official address to come here as over the years my glass of tastiest thandai has reached everywhere. I have my own unique recipe which not everyone will understand. It is not just about mixing things together and pouring into a glass, it is a responsible task to prepare each glass carefully and especially bhaang ones.”
Another sweet spot for thandai lovers is Shahi Thandai House, Pune. Picture an amalgamation of watermelon kernels, saffron, rose, cardamom, almonds and fennel seeds all put together in one glass of milk and sugar. Yes it’s salivating already right ? Naveen Kumar, the Head of the shop explain, “Serving a glass of drool-worthy thandai drink is not everyone’s cup of tea. We prepare thandai with almonds, soy milk, poppy and chia seeds, peppercorns and sambuca liqueur. It is perfect drink to make the mood on festivals especially. Moreover, people have recently expanded their knowledge of food and health benefits of consuming a particular diet. Thandai, specifically, has numerous health benefits. It is best for stomach as it keeps Digestion Issues at bay. Plus, the nuts are a good source of calcium, fat, protein, and fiber, which help you digest food and prevent issues like constipation. Moreover, ingredients like fennel seeds have anti-inflammatory and cooling properties help the body and gives strength.”
Best wishes from