Love in a tea cup !
This comforting Chai is an absolute delight on cold winter days. The western names for ‘Masala Chai’ are Chai latte or Chai Tea ( funny ? ) . Every single Indian household makes Chai at least once a day especially in the morning. The day starts with a cup of Chai. You will find Chai vendors across the streets, at bus and train stations, offices and college canteens. It’s a quick pick-me-up drink for those lazy afternoons. And if you are visiting someone, you will be served hot Chai with a savory snack. I may not be wrong if I say it is the ‘National Drink’ of India. And yes it is made fresh every time !
|Few tins from our tea corner|
I’m not a tea person but this was the first thing I ever prepared in kitchen more than two decades ago. There is no ‘fixed’ recipe for ‘Chai’. Every Indian family has mastered their own recipe. Chai is essentially black tea brewed strongly and mixed with sugar and milk. Some people like it plain with no added flavors while others add one or two spices like ginger root, cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns or cinnamon sticks.
|For best flavors use fresh spices|
There is even a special kind of spice available in the market – chai masala, which is frequently used these days for its ease of use. As with me, I don’t drink Chai ( surprised ? ) but when ever I make it for anyone, I don’t prefer the Chai spice.
Read on to check my way of making it with fresh spices.
- In a small saucepan, combine water and all the spices. Bring it to a rolling boil. On medium flame, let it simmer for at least 2 minutes . Add the tea bag/ loose tea leaves. Let it boil and then continue to simmer on medium flame for 3 -4 minutes.
- Add sugar and milk . Let it boil. Simmer for another 3-4 minutes.
- Strain and pour into mugs.
- Serve hot and enjoy with your favorite snack.
- Use loose leaf tea whenever possible for the authentic flavor. Tea bag is fine too if you do not have loose tea leaves.
- Try to use fresh , whole spices instead of their powdered versions to get the real flavors.
Digestive Chai: Add 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds to the boiling water. Skip other spices. Proceed with the basic Chai recipe. This aids in digestion after a heavy meal.
Ginger Chai: Gently crush 2 inch piece of fresh ginger root and add to the boiling water. Proceed with the basic Chai recipe. This is very beneficial when you have a sore throat and cold especially when taken with honey. Substitute sugar with honey for maximum benefits.
Cinnamon Chai: Add 2 inches of cinnamon stick to the boiling water. Proceed with the basic Chai recipe.
Tulsi Chai : Add fresh Tulsi ( Holy Basil ) leaves ( 3-4 ) to the boiling water and proceed with the basic Chai recipe.
Chai Latte : Use milk frother to make froth and pour the milk froth over the boiled black tea in the cups. Do not put any milk in the saucepan . Just strain the black tea in cups and pour froth.
- Tea is anti inflammatory and also rich in antioxidants.
- All the spices used are health promoting with excellent digestive properties.
Tea Fun :
The Burmese ‘eat’ a pickled tea, lephet. To make lephet, tea leaves are first softened, then allowed to cool, rolled tightly, and placed underground to age. Lephet is considered a delicacy in Burma and mandatory for important social occasions. The Burmese usually serve it on a tray with the pickled tea in the middle, surrounded by several other garnishes. These can include shrimp, sesame seeds, garlic, peanuts, and dried peas.
The tea ceremony is an important part of Japanese culture and involves the consumption of a delicious powdered green tea known as Matcha. The tea ceremony originally began as an art form practiced by the elite of Japanese society as a way to bond socially.