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5 from 4 votes

Vegan Thandai

Drinking a Thandai is like drinking an Indian sweet right out of a glass. This milk drink, infused with cooling spices and nuts and festooned with saffron, is especially popular at Holi, the Indian festival of colors, which celebrates the arrival of summer. For my vegan Thandai I infuse the spices and nuts with creamy oat milk and a touch of vanilla.
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: North Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Vegan Thandai
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 356kcal



  • ½ cup blanched almonds (you can buy the almonds already blanched or blanch them yourself. To blanch almonds with the skin on, soak them in boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain and peel.)
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup raw pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (or watermelon seeds)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white poppy seeds
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon saffron
  • 12 green cardamom pods (use the seeds only)
  • ¼ cup rose water
  • 6 cups oat milk
  • ½ cup sugar (Start by adding ¼ cup, taste, and add more if needed. You can add more than ½ cup if you like the thandai very sweet, but for me ½ cup for 6 servings hits the sweet spot.)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Place all the nuts, pumpkin seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, peppercorns, saffron, cardamom seeds, rosewater and ½ cup of oat milk in a blender.
  • Blend into a coarse paste. This Thandai Masala can be made up to three days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. For instructions on how to make a dry Thandai masala that can be stored for longer see notes.
  • To make the vegan Thandai, place the remaining oat milk in a saucepan. Add the Thandai Masala and mix well. Bring the oat milk to a boil over medium-low heat. Once it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer and let the milk and nuts and spices infuse for 8 minutes. Stir frequently to ensure nothing sticks.
  • Stir in the sugar, turn off the heat, then add the pure vanilla extract and mix.
  • Strain the Thandai using a fine mesh strainer. Chill.
  • Serve garnished, if you wish, with more nuts and strands of saffron.


  • Nutritional facts include nuts but keep in mind that some of these values could be lower, including the total calorie count, because a lot of the solid matter of the nuts is strained out.
  • You can make the thandal up to three days ahead and store it in the fridge.
  • To make a powdered thandai masala for longer-term storage, use storebought blanched almonds rather than making your own. Place the almonds along with the other nuts, seeds, peppercorns and cardamom in a dry skillet over low heat. Roast for 5 minutes or until the mixture is aromatic and barely changing color. Remove to a plate and let the nuts and spices cool. Place in a blender or spice grinder and blend to a fine powder. You can store this powder in a cool, dark place for up to three months. 
  • If you are nut-free, replace the nuts with ¾ cup pumpkin seeds. You can also use a mix of pumpkin and watermelon seeds. Proceed.
  • You can substitute the sugar with stevia or erythritol or monk fruit sweetener. Or you can add 12 or more dates to the blender when you make the thandai masala. Keep in mind this will change the color of the thandai from a pale green-yellow to a darker shade.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 118mg | Potassium: 375mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 518IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 425mg | Iron: 4mg