Food Memories: Goodnight Milk [Thandai Recipe]

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This food memory is from Leena D. Saini, a freelance food writer and emerging cookbook author.

Whenever I couldn’t sleep, my mom would make me her special version of thandai, a popular spiced milk drink from India. She called it “goodnight milk” and told me it would make my sleep peaceful and that’d I’d have happy dreams. My mom would mix whole milk, a pinch of sugar, ground cardamom and a few strands of saffron together and serve it to me warmed in a small, very old mickey mouse cup. The cup was made from melamine and faded from many washings. It came with a mickey mouse dish that my daughter now eats off of. I also eat the occasional grilled cheese sandwich off of it when I’ve had a bad day and need some comfort.

My mom was my best friend and passed away in 2005. I now have two little girls and serve goodnight milk to my feisty 3-year-old (who claims to be “never tired”). I think of my mom each and every time I make it. The beauty of home-cooked food and recipes … they are like a hug from your mom whenever you need it.

Goodnight Milk – Thandai Recipe


Cooking Directions

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

Leena D. Saini is a freelance food writer and emerging cookbook author devoted to writing about the use of spices and diverse ingredients in baby food. Leena blogs at

Photo: Leena D. Saini

3 thoughts on “Food Memories: Goodnight Milk [Thandai Recipe]”

  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. A great read. I’ll definitely be back.

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