This Holi, it’s going to be thandai kulfi! Of course, thandai is omnipresent. I thought, why not do a dessert as well. The kids love kulfi and ice-cream and thandai kulfi is a no-fuss dish. So after mangshor jhol and bhat, thandai kulfi would be a brilliant idea as a dessert.

Make your own thandai powder or paste, it’s super easy

All these years, I have relied on Guruji thandai syrup. Every year, before Holi, I get over ambitious and buy 2 bottles. And every year, I end up throwing one bottle because the expiry has passed and I forgot about the bottle lying in the corner of my cupboard. This year I decided enough is enough. It mustn’t be that hard if so many people make thandai at home. I then remembered my mother grinding nuts for thandai many years back. We were shooed away from the kitchen then since bhang was being added.

Making your own thandai paste is a breeze. I picked up the recipe from Sangeeta Khanna’s blog. She posted a few stories while making thandai and then she mentioned her blog. It had simple ingredients and was easy to make. The ingredients needed are

  • Poppy Seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Fennel Seeds- 2 tsp
  • Melon seeds- 1.5 tbsp
  • Black Pepper- 10-15 nos
  • Dried rose petals (you can use rose water too)- 1 tbsp (for rose water, take 1 tsp)
  • Almonds- 1/4th cup
  • Cashews- 1/2 cup
  • Saffron- a large pinch
  • Sugar- 1/2 cup

Take all the above ingredients except sugar and soak them in a cup of water for an hour at least. Then grind them with sugar and more water if required. Grind into a smooth paste. Pour it out in a glass container and then use it as necessary.

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Thandai Kulfi is an easy Holi recipe

Unlike ice-cream, kulfi doesn’t need any churning or heavy cream or whipping. The only thing required is patience while the milk is thickening on a stovetop. Kulfi is the Indian version of ice-cream and is made with full-fat milk. It is rich and creamy and is typically frozen in conical-shaped moulds, like a popsicle. I remember my mother making different kinds of kulfi often during our growing up years in Port Blair. The excitement was rubbing your palms on the kulfi mould to loosen the kulfi and taking it out of the mould before serving. I loved helping ma out. And this time, both my kids were helping me while pouring in the moulds as well as taking them out. I went on a sweet memory ride while this was happening.

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The important part is using full-fat milk and simmering it till it reduces by half. Midway, I add a shortcut of condensed milk. You can do without it too. But I like the caramelisation that comes with condensed milk. Once the milk has thickened, add thandai paste and more sugar, if required and boil for another ten minutes. After that, let it cool down. Pour into moulds and freeze. It takes about 6 hours minimum for thandai kulfi to set. Before serving, you can choose to garnish with more nuts, rose petals or just as it is.

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Serving and Storing Suggestions

You can serve thandai kulfi as it is. Or you can add some chopped up nuts as a garnish, roll the kulfi over the nuts so that they stick and then serve. Thandai kulfi stays in the freezer easily for a month without any kind of decay. As for the thandai paste, it stays in the refrigerator for a month in an airtight container.

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Thandai Kulfi

Thandai is a typical Holi drink or a cooler and this is a dessert made with tandai paste. Kulfi is an Indian version of ice cream and this kulfi is flavoured with thandai paste.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Course Desserts, Indian Sweets, Vegetarian
Cuisine Indian
Servings 18 kulfis approx


Thandai Paste

  • 1 tbsp poppy seed
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1.5 tbsp char magaz melon seeds
  • 10-15 black peppercorns you can use less also if you want
  • 1 tbsp dried rose petals You can use 1/2 to 1 tsp of rose water instead
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 large pinch saffron
  • 1/2 cup sugar

For Making Thandai Kulfi

  • 1.5 lts full-fat milk
  • 400 gms condensed milk 1 can
  • 2-3 tbsp thandai paste as per taste
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar as per taste
  • 1/4 cup grated mawa optional
  • nuts for serving optionals


To Make Thandai Paste

  • Take all the above ingredients except sugar and soak them in a cup of water for an hour at least. Then grind them with sugar and more water if required. Grind into a smooth paste. Pour it out in a glass container and then use it as necessary. 

To Make Thandai Kulfi

  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, take the milk and put it to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and let it simmer.
  • Keep a wooden spatula immersed in the saucepan and stir time and again so that the milk doesn't burn at the bottom.
  • After 20 minutes, add condensed milk and stir. Continue thickening the milk till it has reduced by half.
  • Once that happens, add the thandai paste and sugar if needed. Stir once again and increase the heat. Add mawa if you want to at this stage. Keep stirring and make sure there are no lumps.
  • The milk becomes thick in another 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off the gas and let it cool down.
  • Once it has cooled down, pour into kulfi moulds and freeze for 6 to 8 hours or until it has set.
  • Before serving, rub the kulfi moulds between the palms of your hands and loosen it a bit. Then using a sharp knife, loosen the top of the kulfi from the sides and pull it out.
  • If you want, you can also insert a skewer sometime in the middle of freezing. That helps in pulling out the kulfi.
  • You can garnish with nuts and serve or serve as it is.
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