Chai is the word used to describe tea brewed with spices which is very popular in Northern India.
The word chai brings up so many pleasant associations for those who have tasted this delicious brew. It is such an integral part of Indian culture and is offered to anyone visiting your home. It is customary to drink at least a few sips of tea if socializing with someone. It strengthens the emotional bond between people sharing tea brewed in the same pot. Chai is typically associated with relaxation, socialization, and a very unhurried pace of life. Unlike coffee drinkers, you are not likely to find people walking and drinking chai. It invites you to sit and enjoy the moment. Psychologically this is one way to savor the moment and is also a very nurturing activity.
It seems that everyone places their unique stamp on the ritual of drinking and preparing tea.
Here are some suggestions for preparing your own cup of chai. It’s good to have the essential spices on hand. The spices in the photograph are: In a clockwise direction starting at 11 o’clock:
Peppercorns (Kali Mirchi sabut)
Fennel seeds (saunf )
Ginger (adrak pronounced ud ruck)
Cinnamon (dalchini pronounced dahl chee nee)
Black cardamom (kali elaichi pronounced il ay chee)
At the 9 o’clock position is the approximate amount of spices needed for 2 small cups of tea along with black tea leaves.
Many people grind these spices to a powder and store them. The powder is easier to add to lattes or use in your cappuccino maker.
You can start your adventure with 2 cups of water and the amount of spices shown in the picture. Rough grind the spices using a mortar and pestle before adding to the water. Let the water boil. You can add part of a cardamom husk instead of seeds as it is very full of flavor. Add the tea leaves once it boils but turn off the heat after that. This will help the tea leaves retain maximum flavor. Add milk to taste.
You can add a couple of drops of vanilla essence. Remove from heat after adding vanilla essence or it turns bitter.
Decadent options: You can also add these ingredients after the tea is ready and has been strained through a sieve.
- Sweetened Condensed milk to taste. This is not the same as evaporated milk. It is gooey and sugary. I usually empty a can of condensed milk in one of my containers and keep it in my fridge to use as needed. It can last a long time.
- A dollop of vanilla ice-cream
- Mint to cool the spiciness
You can use the same spices to prepare a cup of green tea if that is your preference or if you don’t like dairy.
Most of all be creative and have fun in the process. Don’t forget to make a cup for your friends and family.
Please share this with friends and family if you feel they will be inspired to create their own cup of chai.