The original Indian masala chai
Chai is almost as fundamental a requirement to an Indian household as water, and food. Growing up, we weren't really encouraged to consume chai because of the caffeine content, and were served something of milder sorts. I remember thus dipping a nice marie biscuit into my Mom and Dad's cup of tea and consuming it just before it disintegrated into a zillion particles into their tea cups - that was one juicy bite! I have grown up watching guests being served chai, Mom knitting sweaters over evening sip at Ranchi, and important household decisions being made over the sips. Chai time is the time to reflect and have a hearty conversation with family and friends.
After coming to the Netherlands, I started sharing warm cups of tea with my neighbours and friends while we discussed the lectures, the internships, and shared that essential piece of gossip with each other. It kept us warm, comfortable, and alert. Each of us brought with us their own recipe with subtle differences from that of the other's. For example, mine was always with just the right amount of sugar (in my humble opinion), whereas some of my friends would receive a cup of chai from me with a spoon loaded with sugar!
Slowly I noticed that chai wasn't something dear to only Indians. My lovely Dutch family loves a warm cup of chai, and doesn't hesitate getting some more for the second helping. It feels great seeing packets of masala chai being sold at the local supermarket, and most importantly, that chai is slowly becoming part of the vocabulary of a modern day world citizen. What a beautiful example of globalization! On the other hand, what upsets me many a times is that chai is nothing but glorifies garam masala being sold in over-expensive bags. It is one thing to make it a luxury commodity, but it is another thing to sell a mix of curry spices in a tea bag. Not kidding! The other day I read a packet of "chai tea latte" mix consisting of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom powder. Where is the black tea bhai?
Anyway, I need my cup of chai now. And what a coincidence! Heaven has decided to shower blessings and it is pouring outside. Good for the monsoon-like ambiance, and also for my little balcony greens. Cheers!
Preparation time: 15 minutes
- 1 cup milk (the fattier, the better!)
- 1.5 cup water
- 3 teaspoons Black tea (if possible, visit an Indian grocery store and get some of the real deal!)
- 1/4 inch piece of ginger cut into strips
- 1 clove (optional)
- 1 cardamom pod (optional)
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- In a saucepan, add everything except milk and let them brew in medium heat for about 10 minutes
- Add the milk and keep an eye over the mixture (milk has the tendency to pour over). Let the chai rise a 2-3 times before turning the heat off.
- Strain it into your favorite mug
- Cheers! Proost!
Chai is ideal for gloomy days to avoid feeling under the weather. It is the best feeling to wrap oneself in a warm blanket and enjoy chai; it is everyone's cup of tea!