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Monday, February 24, 2014

Thandaii

Maha Shivratri is the single most important festival for the Shaivites or the devotees of Lord Shiva. It is widely believed that whoever worships the divine Lord in a particular ritualistic manner on this day will have his wish fulfilled. This festival is more commonly observed by the married womenfolk who pray for the well being of their husband and son(s). Some unmarried girls also keep a fast to attain an ideal husband like Lord Shiva.

People who observe the day get up early in the morning and take a dip/bath in a holy river. They then wear new clothes and duly visit a Shiva temple. Abhisekha or 'giving bath' to the Lord is then done with milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, sugar and milk (this concoction is also called 'Panchamrit'). Finally a 'Bilwa patra' or 'Bela patra' with 3 leaves is placed on the Shiva Linga (to cool the short-tempered Lord). Most folks observe a fast throughout the day and only eat food the next day after the 'Deepam' is placed on the apex/top of the temple (sometime after midnight). A few even give up water for the entire day.

While no Shivratri is complete without an offering of 'bhang' or cannabis to the Holy Lord, the medium is usually different. In Orissa some people offer it wrapped in betel(paan) leaves while in the North, bhang is usually mixed in 'Thandaii' or in sweets. Thandaii is more spicy and flavorful version of the regular 'Badam milk' that is popularly consumed in South India. It is very common during Shivratri and Holi. With spices like green cardamon, khuskhus, rose petals and fennel, it is known to keep the body cool during the Summer months.

A few years ago I had not even heard of it but today I am able to succesfully make a batch at home. Thanks to all my blogging friends (especially Deepa from whom I first heard about it). Here is my version of the very refreshing drink called 'Thandaii':























Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients - Milk ( 1 liter ), almonds ( 16-18 nos ), cashews ( 10-12 nos ), khuskhus ( 1 1/2 tbsp), watermelon seeds (magaj) (1 1/2 tbsp), fennel ( 1 1/2 tbsp), green cardamon (4-5 nos), peppercorns ( 1 tsp ), saffron ( a few strands ), rose water/essense ( 1 tbsp/few drops) (use fresh petals if you find some, the dark pink ones are best), sugar ( 1 cup or to taste ).

Preparation - Soak the almonds, cashews, khuskhus and watermelon seeds togather. (remove the almond skin once it is soaked)

Dry roast the peppercorns, fennel and cardamom till it gives off a fragrance.

Cooking - Bring the milk to boil in a thick bottomed vessel. After it boils for 5-6 minutes, switch off flame.

Add the sugar and saffron strands to the still hot milk. Mix gently so that the sugar dissolves.Allow to cool.

Transfer the roasted spices to a grinder and make into a paste. Add all the soaked nuts and spices and grind everything till it becomes very fine. Add a little water to thin the consistency if it is getting too difficult to grind. Add this paste along with rose essence to the milk and allow to stand for 1 hour.

Use a cloth to strain and transfer the milk into another vessel (an earthern pot would be ideal but do not worry if you cant find one)

Refrigerate for a few hours.

Garnish with silver foil (warq)/rose petals, nuts and a few strands of saffron and serve chilled with some Gujiya (Karanji).


















Note - Fresh rose petals if used, need to be ground along with the nuts and spices.

I have not used any bhang (cannabis) in this preparation. If you want to make bhang thandaii, soak 10-15 cannabis leaves along with the nuts and follow the same procedure as detailed above.

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