I’m one of the very few coffee haters in the world. Everyone around me are big time coffee lovers and many raise their eyebrows when I say I do not like coffee. Anything that has coffee in it is a big no to me, but occasionally I do like to have a cup of steaming hot tea. Since it is occasional I always prefer it to be really rich and special. What kind of tea can be more special than an Indian Masala Chai? With the wonderful blend of some of the best spices on earth and some rich creamy milk, one cup of tea can keep me going for days.
Let me share with you the recipe that makes a fantastic Masala Chai. You may be surprised to know where I learned this recipe from. A street tea vendor in the beautiful hills of Kodaikanal (India) shared his recipe with me. We reached his small, old tea shop in one of the corners of this ever gorgeous hill station after a nice, long and tiring trek. Everyone except me jumped right in for their cup of tea, I was a little hesitant. I was not sure if I wanted to have tea from that not so appealing tea shop, but I’ve always known that such road side tea vendors make the most authentic and finest tea in India. With a little bit of a hesitation, I asked for my cup.
What you’re expecting is what I’m gonna say, it was THE BEST tea I’ve ever had. I was not really paying attention to how he was making the tea, but after having a cup of it, I asked him for the recipe. He made it from scratch again for us explaining every step of his simple yet lovely recipe with a bit of pride and a little smile. I’ve made some minor modifications to it, but what you are seeing here is his version of the recipe 95%.
People always add tea to boiling water and then add milk after straining. My tea vendor friend also did the same, but I add tea to boiling milk directly. It saves time and there is absolutely no difference in the taste. 1% milk in recipe may make you feel that the tea could be very dilute, it is actually not. You ‘ll be surprised about how thick and rich it is, just the way you would want it to be.
You can alter the spices also to suit your taste/flavor preferences. If you are in a real hurry and do not have time for pounding your spices, just smash some ginger and cardamom (separately) with the back of a wooden spoon and throw them in to your tea. These two ingredients are absolutely required (according to me), even for the simplest Masala Chai!
Prep time: less than 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Serves : 2
2-3 teaspoons black tea powder (or black tea bags)
2 1/2 cups 1% milk
3 whole green cardamom
1 teaspoon minced ginger
4 whole black peppercorns
Pound all the dry spices together with a mortar and pestle. Lower or spike up the spice levels the way you’ll like it.
Heat milk in a saucepan and add tea (or tea bags). As it starts to boil, add ginger and the spices. Simmer it for five minutes and turn off heat (see note). Strain it and discard solids. Add sugar and serve warm. Masala Chai is normally quite sweeter, and I add about a teaspoon of sugar per serving.
To get the most flavor from all the spices, I let the tea simmer for about ten minutes or more, if I’m not in a rush. For even better flavor I make the tea ahead of time and let it sit for a few hours before straining and serving. This makes a simply out of the world tea that is so strong,flavorful and potent.Try it at least once.