Masala Chai

Tea is what’s keeping me going this week. A cup here and there between school, work and designing a mural for my sister’s baby’s room.

To spoil myself just a little bit, I bought some homogenized milk for masala chai.

I never skip the whole milk. The creaminess is essential to a satisfying cup of chai.

The spices are just as important.

The ginger and spices in chai have a warming effect on the body.

Several of the key warming spices in garam masala are present in chai.

This picture is deceptive:

Black tea and the components of the masala: cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, black peppercorns and star anise.

But I won’t try to fool you with this recipe.

Expensive loose-leaf black tea is rarely used on a day-to-day basis for chai.

If you consider that many chai drinkers drink 4-5 cups per day, it makes a lot of sense to buy a cheaper tea.

Lipton Yellow Label Tea is the brand that I have seen used most frequently. It costs around $7 for 450g (dealz!). It’s a very strong, highly-caffeinated tea that does well in a milky chai. It doesn’t taste very nice on its own, but its lovely with all of the spices added to it. I think it’s formulated for making chai.

I also won’t try to fool you with pretty pictures of teapots. Chai is made in a pot on the stove.

Because the milk is boiled, a skin will develop almost immediately on top of a cup of chai. If the skin is missing, the chai wasn’t made properly and might even be of the powdered mix variety.

Finally, we get to the sugar. Indians put A LOT of sugar in their chai — 3-4 teaspoons per cup.

I find that 1 teaspoon is enough for me. But you really must add at least some to get the authentic experience. The sugar brings out the cardamom flavour, too.

Serve with cake rusks, suji biscuits or whatever mithai you like best.

Chai for 2

1-inch piece ginger, julienned
1/2 star anise
2 green cardamom pods, crushed
1-inch cinnamon stick
3 black peppercorns
2 cloves
3 tsp black tea
1/2 cup water
1 cup homogenized milk
green cardamom powder

Boil the water and ginger for 1 minute. Add the spices. Boil until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the tea. Boil until the water goes very dark in colour, about 3 minutes.

Add a smidge more water if needed and the milk. Keep over medium-high heat until the milk rises to the top rim of the pot.

Remove from heat immediately.

Strain into cups.

Sprinkle pinch of green cardamom powder into tea. Add sugar to taste.

“One teaspoon of tea per person and one for the pot.”

Beautiful remnants.


One thought on “Masala Chai

  1. Agree, it’s not real chai without the whole milk! Chai is probably my most reliable feel-good food so this post totally made me smile… except for the milk skin part! Ack!! I usually try to drink my tea quickly before it has a chance to form hehe. Weird, I know, but probably a childhood phobia I never grew out of :p

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