A macaron in my thandai

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For this Holi, celebrity chef Amrita Raichand suggests a few fun tweaks to the traditional drink

Holi is not just a celebration of colours. It’s an extravaganza of flavours too. The explosion of tastes in traditional Holi dishes is a reflection of the splashing of colours. Both the traditions — of savouring contrasting bites and playing with the brightest of hues — represent the cultural layering of centuries. Every year during Holi, along with the several varieties of savouries and sweets that are served and relished, there is one constant, the thandai. A traditional milkbased drink, it is a healthy concoction of three basic ingredients: milk, almonds and saffron.

Scholars say that as Holi celebrations originated in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, a fertile land where milk and milk-products were found in abundance, and the fact that the presiding deity of the region Lord Krishna was fond of milk, it became an important ingredient in all its festive spreads. More so during

Holi. Thandai is a cooling drink ideal for the spring and early summer season when Holi is celebrated. In fact, it can be called the traditional Indian super drink! During Holi, spring recedes and summer sets in and our body becomes prone to several illnesses due to the change in seasons. Thandai is fortified with dry fruits that provide us energy; spices, which increase immunity and help us fight infections and rose petals, fennel and saffron that prevent indigestion.

This drink is offered to Lord Shiva as well. Legends says thandai laced with bhang or cannabis is one of the Lord’s favourites. In the ancient Hindu scripture, the Atharvaveda, the cannabis plant is described as one of the five most sacred on earth. Ayurveda too recognises the medicinal value of the plant. While regular varieties of the drink prepared with mangoes and almonds are popular, one could try some completely new-age thandai recipes, made with chocolate and one in which thandai-cream is used for filling macarons!

The author is a noted chef and the views expressed in the article are her own

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