A cup of masala chai or spiced Indian tea

A Drink for the Soul – Masala Chai

Last spring, we did the touristy thing on the yearly visit to my parents in India. We took some days to travel a bit. We went to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Jaisalmer. By far the highlight of the trip was our stay in Jaisalmer. I am planning to do some posts about it, so you will get to hear more about this old city in the desert, made of golden sandstone. What made our stay even more memorable was the home-stay hotel. Jasmin Home belongs to a local family, and is named after their daughter Jasmin who is about as old as our child. I could go on and on about this wonderful place, the beautiful rooms, the delicious food and the friendly people, but I shall desist. Instead, here is a recipe for making the really excellent tea that they kept serving us on every occasion and non-occasion. The lady of the house sat with me one afternoon in their living room/hotel lobby and  shared some recipes with me, this is one of them. I might have fiddled with it a bit, because her quantities were just like my mother’s, of the “take a bit of this” and “take a handful of that” kind.

I was never a fan of masala chai before. I  liked the flavour of cardamom and/or ginger but the tea itself was too heavy for my taste. Sometimes I made a joke that it could be served as the main course, it was that filling! But ever since that trip last February, I keep looking for excuses to make this tea. It always hits the right spot – it is not cloying and has just the right kind of spiciness in it. Yes I need excuses because I don’t drink either black tea or milk and this recipe needs both. So every time someone comes visiting and is up for trying some, I happily oblige. And I savour my one cup and wish I had made a lot more. Well this Sunday, I did exactly that. The women in my husband’s family came visiting and I made a big pot of tea. And I had two maybe three cups, I don’t remember. I was happy!

Recipe for Masala Chai – Indian tea with spices

For every cup of tea, you will need the following:

1/2 cup whole milk (yes please, please make this tea with whole milk)

1/2 cup water

1 pod of green cardamom (at least, more if you like it more aromatic)

1-2 corns of black pepper (at least, more if you like the bite)

A pinch of grated ginger (at least, more if you like the sharpness)

Sugar to taste

1 tsp of strong black tea (this is not the place to use your fancy, aromatic Darjeeling tea)

The above measures are given assuming that your teacup is a regular sized one. But if your cups happen to be a lot like mugs, then you need to increase the spice amounts accordingly.

For my 8 (small) cups of tea I used 2 standard cup measures of milk and same of water. 5 cardamom pods, 10 peppercorns, 4 tsps of tea and a tsp of ginger. I also added 4 tsps of sugar.

A note about the ginger: I was told that in the summer, Rajasthanis (the state is Rajasthan, the people Rajasthanis), use dried ginger or saunth. I have no access to it but luckily get fresh ginger all the year around.

Process: In a large saucepan, mix your milk and water and start to heat. In a mortar and pestle (or something similar) pound the cardamom and pepper until they form a coarse powder. Add everything, husks and all, into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Now add your tea. Stir and let simmer until tea is as dark as you like it to be, darker = stronger. When the tea is ready, stir in the sugar and ginger. Take off heat and strain into the teapot or directly into cups. Sip carefully.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave your comments.



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