Chai, glorious chai!
What is chai? Well, I am glad you asked! Chai is tea. Yes, that is all that it is. ‘Chai’ is the name the people of Indian subcontinent call it. Nope, it is not chai tea because it will simply make it tea tea. Something doesn’t sound right about that, does it? Yeah so, chai it is.
Bear with me while I get a bit technical here… chai is essentially a delicious blend of black tea, water, milk sweetener sometimes made with or without fresh herbs and whole spices. Ginger chai, masala chai, elaichi chai (cardamom-flavoured tea), saffron chai, cutting chai, Sulaimani chai – the options are endless. What the world calls chai latte is a loosely adapted version of the masala chai.
Chai was one of the first things I ever learnt to make. When my mum asked me if I’d like to learn to make tea, the 12-year-old me was beyond overjoyed! It was a lesson I treasured the most. Not only was it a small step towards my kitchen adventures but I got to learn to make the one thing I truly enjoy.
A chai-related memory that stuck with me was how I’d make it for my mother before she came back home from work. I would carefully strain the tea in a white floral flask. She would then pour herself some in a porcelain cup and relish it with Marie biscuits or rusk. Ah! Those were the days.
Many things have changed in my life, but chai has been a constant. This will forever be my caffeine of choice. If I have to pick a favourite tea, which by the way is a hard choice, I would pick adraki (ginger) chai.
Hope you enjoy a recipe that very close to my heart!
- Water – 1 cup*
- Milk – 1 cup*
- Sugar – 2 tspns
- Loose leaf black tea – 2 tspns
- Ginger – 1-inch piece, cleaned and peeled
Note*: Cup indicated here is not the standard cup. I use the mug I intend to drink the chai out of for this measure.
- In a mortar and pestle, crush the ginger. You don’t want to make it a paste. What we are aiming for it to crush it gently enough to release its juices.
- In a small saucepan, add the water and crushed ginger. Bring it to a boil.
- Boiling with water with ginger will help infuse the flavour.
- Once the water boils, add the tea leaves and sugar. Let it boil for 4 minutes.
- Pour the milk into the vessel and allow it to boil for 3 minutes.
- Keep stirring intermittently while at it.
- If the tea comes to a boil before the 3 minutes, simmer and continue stirring for the duration.
- Turn off the stove. Let the tea rest in the vessel for a couple of minutes.
- Strain and serve the tea hot with sweet or savoury snacks.
- To make this a masala chai, along with crushed ginger, add ¼ tspn of whole peppercorns, 1 clove, 2 cardamom pods, a tiny bark of cinnamon and optionally a sprig of fresh mint.
- Swap sugar for jaggery, stevia or other sweeteners of your choice.
- To make this vegan, add swap milk for plant milks.
- Add more ginger if you like that intense flavour.