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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Mahapatro

Thandai White Russian


Happy Holi! This Indian festival is so near and dear to my heart. On this special day, we celebrate the start of spring. Holi is also commonly associated with the celebration of all things color, love, and joy. I have the fondest memories of Holi growing up. I loved it ALL– the dancing, the food, the laughter, the colors...the list goes on! Simply put, I was NOT going to miss out on the opportunity to share a new recipe with y'all today of all days!

Thandai is a beloved cold beverage concocted with a mixture of bold spices and nuts and is traditionally served on Holi. I knew I wanted to put a spin on the beloved classic and what better way to celebrate Holi than with a holitail? And yes, in case you were wondering, I will NEVER get over this fantastic play on words.

As I continue to chuckle to myself, let’s get into it and chat about this Holi treat served in the form of one of the greatest cocktails to ever to do it: the White Russian. White russians are marvelous. It’s wondrous to see how a few simple ingredients work together to get you a boozy beverage that is equal parts creamy and decadent.

It was a lot of fun remixing the White Russian with Thandai. The vodka I’ve used is incredibly versatile and has a sweeter finish, which makes it a great fit for this cocktail alongside the sweetened coffee liquor and saffron-infused Thandai whipped cream topping. I hope y’all have a wonderful Holi and enjoy this fun & festive cocktail with your loved ones! Cheers!



For the Thandai White Russian:

  • 2 oz of vodka, chilled (I used the Russian Standard brand)

  • 1 oz of Kahlua

  • 1.5 oz of heavy whipping cream, chilled* (see notes for specifics)

  • 1 teaspoon of Thandai masala (I used Badshah Thandai Mix Masala)

  • 6-8 strands of saffron (I used Rumi Authentic Afghan Saffron)

  • 1 single large ice cube or 3-4 small ice cubes

For the garnish:

  • Rock candy sticks, optional for garnish (I used Saharkhiz Saffron Rock Candy)


  1. In an Old Fashioned or lowball glass (short tumbler that holds between 6-8 oz), pour in your chilled vodka.

  2. Then, add in your Kahlua. Add in your ice and stir until the glass is cold to the touch. This should take no longer than 20-30 seconds. Set aside.

  3. In a separate small mason jar, pour in your heavy whipping cream. Using a handheld electric milk frother, whip your cream for about 8-10 seconds until the cream begins to become dense, but peaks are not yet formed. At this time, add in your Thandai masala (preferably ½ a teaspoon at a time) and your saffron until the cream is whipped and peaks are formed. This process should take just about 20-40 additional seconds. Be sure not to overbeat your cream!

  4. Finally, top your lowball glass with the delicious Thandai-spiced heavy whipping cream. Enjoy your cocktail as is or stirred. If you prefer to drink it stirred, simply stir with your rock candy stick garnish (if using) and enjoy!

~ Serves 1


  • The key to a good whipped cream is ensuring that it is as cold as possible. Make sure your heavy whipping cream is extra cold and taken straight out of the fridge before whipping it! While you can most definitely use a whisk or even a mason jar with a lid, I prefer to use a handheld milk frother for ease. I've used the one from Zulay Kitchen for this recipe, available here.

  • If you prefer a bolder Thandai flavor in your cocktail, feel free to let your whipped cream sit for at least 10-15 minutes or up to 1-2 days before serving. Be sure to properly store the cream in the fridge if you choose this route.

  • I used Badshah’s Thandai masala (readily available at most local Indian grocers), but feel free to make your own if you prefer. I’d just be sure to taste a bit before whipping it up to ensure you’re adding the right amount to your whipped cream. While we want a nicely spiced cream, we want to make sure that we have the right balance of flavors too. I'd recommend starting with 1/2 teaspoon of the masala and adding more based on your personal preference if you are using a homemade Thandai masala.

  • Whenever possible, I like to use single-origin spices. These spices are not only ethically produced and sustainable but the payoff in taste is INCREDIBLE. The saffron used in this recipe was kindly gifted to me by Rumi Spice. Founded by US military vets, Rumi Spice employs hundreds of women farmers in Herat, Afghanistan, and offers some of the most fragrant and quality saffron I've ever tasted! If you are looking to purchase saffron for this recipe, I'd definitely recommend checking out Rumi. :)

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