I have so many memories of sipping chai with my family over the years. It is fitting that I would get this delicious recipe to share with all of you, from my wonderful cousin Sharmita. Just one sip of this tea, and I am whisked away to a gated garden in Delhi- with my aunties, grandmother and parents- listening to the sounds of cars buzzing by and horns beeping. Or maybe I am sitting in the living room of Rajo Villa while family chatters in a Hindi/Bengali mix and a divine smell of spices cooking in the kitchen surrounds me. One taste and the memories are so vivid again.
In a movie I love so much, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Judi Dench's character is quoted to describe India as "an assault on the senses" and when reflecting on filming the movie, she adds: "Within 24 hours of my arrival in the country, I was completely fascinated and bewitched by India. The beauty of the people, I thought, was astounding. The colour, the noise, the smell. Everything about it is completely staggering. I can't wait to go back there," Judi Dench.
Sipping real masala tea in India, is one of those moments. If you can't hop on a plane anytime soon, make this recipe and daydream.
Masala ChaiVegan, Gluten Free
This recipe makes one cup of chai.
Ingredients: 3/4 c water, 1/2 tsp tea leaves (not an English tea, but rather an Indian tea with both big and small leaves), fresh ginger (about a 1/2 inch of grated ginger pulp), green cardamom pods smashed opened (I use about 6 pods per cup of chai), one cinnamon stick, raw cane sugar to taste, 1/4 c coconut milk creamer (You can obviously use whole milk if you have no dietary restrictions.) You will also need a tea strainer.
**Note: If you double or triple the recipe for a bigger batch, one cinnamon stick is still enough. Too much cinnamon flavor and it is not authentic.
Bring the 3/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add in the tea leaves, fresh ginger, green cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Add the raw cane sugar to taste, I use about 2 tsp per cup. You can always add more later. Then add the milk and return to a boil and simmer for one minute. Turn off heat and cover the saucepan with a lid for one additional minute. Serve piping hot by straining tea into a cup. Sip and enjoy.
For an Iced Chai Tea, I make the above and triple the recipe (everything except the cinnamon stick-one is enough). I strain the entire batch and let cool in a glass pitcher on the counter. Then I stick the glass pitcher in the fridge for a few hours. Trust me when I say this is absolutely the best treat on a hot, humid afternoon or evening.
And, in another cooking post soon, I will share my perfected Mixed Vegetable Pakora recipe. Pair these two together and you have yourself a very fulfilling tea time feast.
(How adorable is this vintage photo of my cousins and sisters in Rajo Villa? I am on the far left and my cousin Sharmita, who shared her recipe, is third from the left.)