Thandai Phirni (Rice Pudding with Nuts and Spices)

Being a South Indian, I never tasted the Thandai, which is a special drink made on festival of Holi in northern parts of India. After devouring this cool drink that is beautifully scented and hosted with nuts, I wished I knew this before. The word ‘Thandai’ means coolant and is made of milk, loads of nuts and aromatic spices like fennel seeds, cardamom, saffron and dry rose petals. Apart from these spices,a few peppercorns are added to balance the sweet taste and this last note of peppery taste that comes in mouth is what makes it extra delicious.

Today, I made Phirni(rice pudding) with this Thandai spices and it was exceptionally good and is going to be in my favorite list for long. I first saw this recipe in cookery show by Chef Kunal Kapur and it instantly hit my to-do list. As many special recipes of Holi are doing rounds in food blog world, I share this recipe to wish you all who are celebrating a Happy Holi!! But you actually don’t need any reason to make this amazing dessert!!

Thandai Phirni

Thandai Phirni (Rice Pudding)

Servings: 6


Almonds: 12, blanched and peeled

Cashews: 12

Pistachios: 12

Melon seeds (Chironji): 2 tbsp

Poppy seeds: 2 tbsp

Fennel seeds (Saunf): 2 tbsp

Green Cardamom: 4

Gulkand: 2 tbsp (or dry rose petals)

Rose water: 2 tbsp

Saffron: 12-15 strands, crushed and soaked in little warm milk

Peppercorns: 1 tsp

Milk: 4 cups (1 litre)

Rice: 4 tbsp, soaked (Or use rice flour)

Honey/Sugar: 3/4 cup-1 cup

Whipped Cream: for garnish (Optional)


  1. Mix all the nuts, melon seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom, gulkand, peppercorns, rice and soak them in 1 cup of warm milk for 30 minutes.
  2. Grind everything together to a smooth paste in a blender.
  3. In a heavy bottom vessel, boil the remaining milk and add the ground paste.
  4. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes and stir every minute to avoid burning at the bottom.
  5. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is cooked and milk thickens to custard consistency or thickly coats back of the spoon. It thickens further as it cools down.
  6. Add honey/sugar, saffron milk, rose water and cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Transfer to serving bowls or glasses and let cool in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Cover the bowls with cling wrap touching the pudding to avoid forming of film. (If the film is formed, just whisk the pudding with spoon before serving and the film will dissolve)
  8. Serve with whipped cream, pistachio slices and saffron.



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