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thandai: "goodnight milk" for toddlers (and adults!)

by Leena D. Saini

My 3-and-a-half-year-old, Kirina, refuses to go to bed.  Ever.  She howls at bedtime, naptime and any other sort of time where sleep is mentioned.  Some evenings she is so sleepy she literally walks into walls and still she protests, quite loudly, that she is “not tired!”.

            One night, at my wit’s end trying to think of ways to make bedtime calmer, I remembered this warm and comforting drink from my childhood.  Thandai

            Thandai is a famous Indian milk drink, traditionally prepared with spices, dried fruits and nuts and served cold.  My mom’s version used the traditional seasonings, but was served warm and frothy before bedtime when I couldn’t sleep.  She called it “goodnight milk” and promised that drinking it would ensure a peaceful sleep and happy dreams.  She passed away in 2005 and I still remember her every time I make a cup for myself or Kirina. 

            The memory of this dish, or any dish, is like a warm treasured hug.  I think it is for Kirina as well.  She still dislikes bedtime, but this “goodnight milk” surely settles her down a bit. 

For one serving:


1 cup milk (preferably whole, but any fat content will do)
1 pinch, ground cardamom
Sugar, to taste
1 pinch, saffron
Slivered almonds or ground pistachios to garnish, optional


Add milk, ground cardamom and sugar to small saucepan and place on low heat.  When the milk becomes warm (about 2-3 minutes) remove a few spoonfuls and add to a small bowl.  Add the saffron strands to the bowl and mash them in the warm milk with the back of a spoon until the color comes out.  Add this mixture to the saucepan and increase heat to medium-low.  Stir constantly until mixture starts to boil.  Boil for a few seconds until foamy (be careful not to let the pot over boil) and pour into your favorite glass or mug.  Garnish with nuts, if using.

For more ways to spice up baby and toddler food, please visit me at www.masalababyfood.com or on Facebook, www.facebook.com/masalababyfood

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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