l-Alanine dl-mandelic acid hemihydrate (LADLMAH) an organic nonlinear optical chromophore crystal was synthesized using water as solvent and the crystals were grown by a slow solvent evaporation method. The single crystal X-ray diffraction study reveals that the crystals possess to triclinic system with acentric space group P1. The coordination of different moieties present in the compound and molecular structure were elucidated by vibrational and NMR spectroscopic studies. The lower cut-off wavelength is observed down to 258 nm and direct optical band gap was calculated as 5.20 eV. Second harmonic generation was confirmed by Kurtz–Perry powder method. Discrete thermodynamic properties were carried out by TG–DTA techniques. A multiple shot laser technique was adopted to investigate the surface laser damage of the crystal. The microhardness test was carried out employing one of the as-grown hard crystals and there by hardness number (Hv) and Meyer’s index (n) were assessed. The dielectric behaviour of the grown crystal was studied for different temperatures at different frequencies. The third-order optical nonlinearity parameters of LADLMAH were investigated in detail using a Z-scan technique with Nd:YAG laser at 532 nm. © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.