As spring approches, I already sense myself longing for cool drinks. Having spent all winter seeking warmth from hot chocolates and lattes, the imminent warmer months leads me to crave those cold drinks I grew up with.

My memories of drinking ‘thahdal’, a Sindhi (province where I grew up) almond drink is what l long for most as the weather turns warmer. I remember my Nani (maternal granmother) making this on hot days when the electricity would go – to imagine she would grind the almonds laboriously by hand in on a ‘sil batta’ (mortar and pestle) – Thahdal was one of those ubiquitous summer drinks you could even buy from road side vendors on warm, dry dessert winds in Karachi, and sipping this cool, nutty drink at the corner of the streets in ice cold stainless steel glasses, would be a different sort of treat from the homemade version. As I sipped this sweet cold almond-y nectar – I could literally feel every pore of my body thanking me for the magical effect this drink can have on you in the scorching sun. My version here brings the thirst-quenching properties of almond milk together with the texture of poppy seeds and fragrance of roses and aniseed.

Thahdal almond drink with poppy seeds, rose and aniseed

* 1 cup almonds, soaked in hot boiling water and left overnight; then peeled

(Ideally, wash the almond well and soak the almond overnight and peel, this is a labourous task – If you are inclined to be lazy, I’d suggest buying blanched almond and soaking them in hot boiling water for up to 2 hours before making the almond milk)

*1 cup of caster sugar (can be reduced, to taste)

*2 – 3 litres of cold water

*1 tbsp white poppy seeds

*2 tsp aniseed, ground

*1 tbsp dried edible rose petals, crushed by hand and sprinkled on top

Makes upto 2 – 3 litres, enough for about 8- 10 people

1. Grind the soaked almonds in the water they were soaked in, into a very find paste.

2. Heat the sugar with 2 -3 cups of water into a thin syrup, until the sugar is completely dissolved.

3. Combine the almond paste with 2-3 litres of cold water and sugar syrup. Refrigerate for a few hours.

4. To serve mix in the poppy seeds, crushed aniseed and sprinkle with rose petals. Pour over ice.