Holi Special  Recipe – The rich Thandai Panna Cotta!

Holi Special Recipe – The rich Thandai Panna Cotta!

21 Mar 2016 | 6 min Read

Umaima Abdulally

Author | 75 Articles

Thandai Panna Cotta is the union of Indian flavours with an International recipe resulting in a classy dessert which will take your Holi celebrations to another level!

Like every year, spring brings along India’s most beloved festival of colours “Holi”; a celebration more than a festival that young and adult alike look forward to. Holi is not only synonymous with colours and fun but also food and the very famous drink Thandai. Traditionally, Thandai masala is freshly made right in time for Holi by the ladies of the house. But these days, with the availably of products like Thandai syrups, essences and pastes that tradition is almost dying. Here, we have a fusion recipe called Thandai Panna Cotta which is an Italian dessert that is flavoured with Thandai masala. Yes, the recipe uses freshly made Thandai masala, after all someone needs to keep the tradition alive.  


Thandai basically means “cool” and is essentially a milk based drink that is flavoured with a rich masala made of dry fruits and spices called Thandai. This special blend has amazing properties to energize as well as cool the body, which is much needed for the festival and the weather. Thandai masala is a very humble yet powerful blend of ingredients that is recommended to be consumed daily, not necessarily only for Holi. The ingredients required to make Thandai masala are easily found in any Indian kitchen and the process is quite simple. Although, all the ingredients used are in equal proportion, I feel the most important one is badi saunf or fennel seeds which lend their cooling effect to the masala. 


The Italian Panna cotta is a cream based jelly like dessert which is, again, simple and requires limited ingredients. Thick cream is heated, sweetened and flavoured and then set using gelatine. Since gelatine is an animal product, vegans and vegetarians use agar –  gar to set the panna cotta.


The Thandai Panna Cotta is ready in less than 30 minutes and takes not more than an hour to set. Before you set out to play Holi, whip this dessert and leave it to chill so that on your return you are welcomed by traditional flavours wrapped in International feel in the form of Thandai Panna Cotta. 

Happy Holi!



RichThandai Panna Cotta Recipe

Makes 4 servings


For Homemade Thandai powder

  • 1/4th cup shelled pistachios 
  • 1/4th cup almonds
  • 3 teaspoons black peppercorns / sabut kalimirch
  • 2.5 teaspoons cardamom / elaichi powder
  • 3 teaspoons badi saunf / fennel seeds / variyali
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/4th teaspoon turmeric / haldi powder
  • ½ teaspoon saffron / kesar strands


For the Pana cotta

  • 200ml or 1 cup fresh cream, unsweetened (I used Amul tetra pack cream)
  • 6 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Thandai powder
  • 1 teaspoon gelatine granules or agar – agar / china grass powder



Step 1: To make Thandai powder; grind everything together to get a fine powder. If you want to make a paste, then soak the ingredients together in ½ cup of water for 20 minutes and then grind to a smooth paste.



Step 2: To make Thandai Pana cotta, soak the gelatine / agar – agar in 3 teaspoons of water, let it swell for 5 minutes till you work with the cream.



Step 3: Pour fresh cream in a clean, thick bottomed vessel and heat on simmer while stirring continuously. It’s better if you use a whisk to stir as it will ensure no lumps are formed.



Step 4: Once the cream is hot, add in sugar and continue to stir and simmer.


Step 5: Mix the Thandai powder with enough water to make a smooth thick paste. Add this paste to the simmering cream and mix well. 
If you have prepared Thandai paste, then mix it with soaked gelatine / agar – agar before adding to the cream. 


Step 6: Add the soaked gelatine / agar – agar to the cream and whisk vigorously to avoid any lump formation. 

Step 7: Simmer the Thandai Pana cotta mixture for another 5 minutes. Switch off the flame and let it cool.

Step 8: While the Pana cotta mixture cools, grease your moulds with little oil followed by rinsing them with water. Use oil which doesn’t have a very strong flavour or aroma or else the Pana cotta will smell of that. This dessert can be unmolded like a jelly or eaten directly from a fancy mould, choose the mould based on the way you want to serve it. I used muffin tray (for unmolding) and serving cups since I wanted to experiment with both the styles. 

Step 9: Pour the Panna cotta mixture in greased moulds, cover with cling film and refrigerate. The Panna cotta should set in an hour or 2. 




Step 10: To demould the Thandai Panna cotta, run a knife through the sides of the mould and loosen the dessert, upturn the mould on a plate and shake giving a few jerks. A well set Panna cotta will demould immediately. 

Step 11: Garnish Thandai Panna cotta with saffron strands and slivered pistachios. Serve cold.




1. I made the Thandai Panna Cotta using gelatine. Its vegetarian alternative agar – agar or China grass also gives the same texture results. 

2. If using sweetened cream, then you might have to use sugar as per the sweetness of the cream. 

3. It’s always advisable to use glass or metal moulds when planning to demould a dessert. Also how well you grease a mould determines how easily the dessert will leave it on demoulding. The corners and joints of the mould need special attention. 

4. If you are in no mood to prepare Thandai masala, then you can even use readymade Thandai essence or Thandai syrup. Adjust the sugar accordingly, if using syrup. 

5. Left over Thandai masala can be used to make the drink or other favourites like kulfi or ice-cream. It can also be frozen to be used next year, if desired. 



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