Thandai Inspired Baklava
Today I have a Greek Indian fusion sweet – baklava using thandai flavors. Growing up in the States, we always had some elements of traditional foods during the holidays to literally give us a taste of how the festivals were celebrated in India.
Traditional baklava is one of the first sweets I remember making with my Mom and doing an Indian flavor inspired version just seemed natural. It is easy to put together this Indian fusion dessert and it is a crowd pleaser.
What is Thandai?
Thandai is a refreshing, cold milk drink served commonly during Holi in north western India. Holi is the festival of colors and signals the arrival of Spring. This version of baklava takes some elements of thandai to make a new sweet to celebrate the season.
The base ingredients for thandai are milk, sugar, almonds, fennel seeds, cardamom, black peppercorn, melon seeds and white poppy seeds (khus khus). These ingredients are blended into a fine powder and mixed into milk. You can also add in different ingredients to make various flavors of thandai. Some ideas for flavors are saffron, rose and mango.
What thandai ingredients are in the baklava?
From the thandai recipe, I’ve used all the base ingredients listed above except melon seeds as they do not have a major impact on the flavor profile of the dish. I used almonds, walnuts and pistachios I’ve also used saffron and a hint of rose for the baklava syrup.
What ingredients do I need?
I like to prepare ingredients the night before so it makes the process easy for the next day.
- Phyllo dough
- Nuts: almonds, pistachios, walnuts
- Fennel seeds
- White Poppy seeds (khus khus)
- Black pepper
- Rose water
I like to prepare some of ingredients the night before so it makes the process easy for the next day.
- Phyllo dough – Move the dough from freezer to fridge overnight so it is defrosted and ready to go in the morning.
- Nuts – Roast in oven and set aside to cool
- Honey mix – Make mixture and refrigerate. Cool mixture poured on the hot out of the oven baklava is what helps make it crispy!
- 9X13 pan
- Pastry brush
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
- Do not skip toasting the nuts, it makes such a huge difference in flavor! Just pop them in the oven for a few minutes and you will be good to go.
- Phyllo doughs are sold in different sizes, you can use a different amounts for your layers. Just count ahead and determine so it is easy for you to put together. You can also cut to fit your pan or fold them in half (using 1 sheet as two layers, buttering in between folds).
Are there vegan substitutions?
Yes, just use butter substitute like Earth balance instead of butter. If you do not want to use honey then substitute agave.
Indian Baklava – Thandai flavors Indian fusion
- 9×13 pan
- Pastry brush
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup honey substitute agave for vegan version
- 1/4 tsp saffron
- 1/2 tsp rose water I use Nielssen Massey (it is strong)
For baklava and filling
- 1 16 oz phyllo dough defrosted, store bought
- 3/4 cup butter melted (used Earth Balance for vegan version)
- 1 tsp white poppy seeds khus khus
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2.5 tsp ground cardmamom powder
- 1 lb toasted nuts 4 cups – almonds, pistachios, walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line pan with parchment paper and toast nuts for 7-9 minutes until flagrant and a little darker. Set aside to cool.
- Boil sugar, water and saffron until sugar melts. Add in honey and let simmer on low for 15 minutes. Take off heat and mix in rose water. Set aside to cool and store in fridge.
- Grind together the nuts, fennel seeds and cardamom. Mix together nuts, ground fennel/cardamom, black pepper powder and white poppy seeds.
- Take phyllo dough out of fridge. Grease pan with butter. If needed, cut phyllo sheets to fit pan (or you can fold over to fit).
- One by one, lay a sheet of phyllo, then use a pastry brush to butter it. Repeat for 14 layers.
- Add half the nut mixture and smooth out evenly across phyllo.
- One by one, add 6 layers of phyllo, buttering each.
- Add the remaining half of the nut mixture. Smooth out evenly.
- Repeat process of layering to top mixture with 14 buttered sheets.
- Cut the baklava into the shapes you desire and bake in oven at 350F for 1 hour 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove pan from oven. Take out cooled syrup from step two. Pour syrup all over the baked baklava. It will sizzle! The cool mixture on the warm baklava helps to give it a crispiness.
- Top with rose petals and crushed pistachios. Let cool and serve!