Think of thandai—a popular drink at Holi celebrations in northern India—as a lightly floral spiced milk punch. In this recipe from her book Mumbai Modern, author Amisha Dodhia Gurbani mixes some of the rosy, nutty masala used for thandai into tender-crisp butter cookies, where its flavor blooms in the heat of the oven. Use leftover thandai masala to flavor hot chocolate, eggnog, or apple pie, or to sprinkle over your morning oatmeal or yogurt.
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Makes about 30
star anise pod
½” cinnamon stick
green cardamom pods
Tbsp. dried rose petals
tsp. fennel seeds
tsp. ground nutmeg
tsp. black peppercorns
tsp. saffron threads
Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. raw almonds
Tbsp. poppy seeds
Tbsp. raw cashews
Tbsp. raw pistachios, preferably Persian or Sicilian
Cookies and Assembly
Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
cup (100 g) sugar
tsp. vanilla extract
cups (188 g) all-purpose flour
tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt
cup (170 g) high-quality white chocolate chips
tsp. refined coconut oil
cup (30 g) raw pistachios, preferably Persian or Sicilian, chopped
Tbsp. dried rose petals, crushed
A spice mill; a plain or fluted 2″-diameter cookie cutter
Finely grind star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, rose petals, fennel seeds, nutmeg, peppercorns, and saffron in spice mill to a powder. Transfer spice mixture to a small bowl.
Working in batches if needed, finely grind almonds, poppy seeds, cashews, and pistachios in spice mill (but not so finely ground that the nuts turn to butter). Whisk nut mixture into spice mixture until well combined.
Do Ahead: Thandai masala can be made 3 weeks ahead. Transfer to an airtight container; cover and chill.
Cookies and Assembly
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add flour, salt, and 5 Tbsp. (35 g) thandai masala and beat on low speed until just combined. Pat dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to ¼” thick. Transfer dough, still sandwiched between parchment, to a baking sheet and freeze until just firm, 10–15 minutes.
Slide dough onto a surface and carefully peel away top sheet of parchment. Punch out cookies as close together as possible with cutter and divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1½” apart.
Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until golden, 14–16 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely; reserve baking sheets with parchment. Repeat process with dough scraps (chill dough again before punching out more cookies).
Melt white chocolate and oil in a small heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water (do not let bowl touch water), stirring occasionally, until glossy and smooth. (Alternatively, melt in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring after each, about 1 minute total.)
Dip one third of each cookie into white chocolate and transfer to reserved baking sheets. Scatter pistachios and rose petals over white chocolate. Freeze cookies until chocolate is set, about 5 minutes.
Do ahead: Dough can be made 1 week ahead; keep chilled. Cookies can be baked (but not glazed) 10 days ahead or glazed 2 days ahead; store airtight at room temperature.
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