The festival of Holi, beyond the customary playing with colours, is incomplete without binging on the variety of sweets prepared specifically for the day. Among the variety is the traditional century-old milk and dry fruit drink called thandai. What makes thandai unique are the plant-based natural ingredients that are rich in flavour and have a cooling effect on the body. The only way of consuming thandai in India has been in liquid form. Adding a twist to the sweetness of flavours from thandai with the goodness of a crunchy tart base gives us the thandai custard tart. This twist is one of the best ways to get children accustomed to the taste of thandai as they devour the crumbly crust of the tart. 

Both thandai and custard tarts are centuries-old recipes that continue to entice the taste buds. As the name suggests, thandai means cooling, and is a mixture of spices, nuts, rose petals, pepper, poppy seeds, saffron, sugar, and milk. And a custard tart is a baked pastry with a flaky outer crust filled with custard on the inside. 

Picking on the multitude of ingredients for thandai, the origin of this healthy drink can be traced back to Lord Shiva. Legend has it that bhaang thandai was a drink that was Lord Shiva's beverage of choice during the festival of Mahashivratri. Apart from the basic ingredients, small portions of bhang (cannabis) were added, making the drink green in colour. The colour green is symbolic of the arrival of spring. Keeping the tradition alive, the custom of making and serving thandai has become part of most festivals in North India since 1903. A few historical accounts are also of the opinion that originally thandai was a fruit and spice-based drink in which milk and spices were not used. 

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The custard tart, which is a form of pastry, has its origins in Portugal, France, and the United Kingdom. The mention of custard pie is found in the 18th century as the word custard is derived from a medieval Anglo-Norman French word ‘crusade’, meaning a kind of pie. And the custard tart is somewhat an imitation of this popular custard pie.

While the traditional custard tart involves a filling of eggs, this one will have the nectar from the Gods.

Ingredients:

    1 litre Whole milk

    5 tbsp Custard powder

    4 tbsp Sugar or honey

    3 tbsp Thandai powder

    210 gm Parle G biscuits, crushed

    80 gm melted butter

 Method:

1.    In a large bowl, add the custard powder, sugar, and 1/2 cup of cold milk. Mix until it dissolves and keep aside. In another bowl, mix the thandai powder with 3-4 tablespoons of milk and keep it aside.

2.    On medium heat, bring the rest of the milk to boil. Now add this milk to the custard mix and stir.

3.    Pour this mixture into a saucepan and bring it to a boil, while stirring continuously.

4.    Finally, add the thandai powder paste to the custard and continue boiling on low heat. Remember to keep stirring until it thickens.

5.    Remove from the heat and strain the custard to remove lumps. Then stir gently to move things around and set it to chill.

6.    For the tart, mix melted butter with crushed biscuits. Now press this mixture onto the tart tin tightly and keep it in the fridge until it is set.

 Now pour the thick custard on the tart and spread it around evenly. Slice and serve.

What would have been difficult to gulp down from a glass, becomes delicious with the addition of the crust. Apart from the taste, thandai is rich in healthy fat, nutrients, and vitamins that have benefits for the body. This sweet dish is the easiest Indian version of the otherwise fancy pie.