If you type in ‘Indian Tea’ on Google, the very first results suggest that India is the 2nd largest producer of Tea worldwide. But, what it doesn’t say is the culture, the variety and the passion that has developed around tea, that follows every Indian wherever they go. In fact, my inspiration struck when Dubai experienced a rare rain shower last week and I was instantly craving a cup of Chai and Onion bhajiya. There’s less technique, but more love involved when brewing the perfect ‘Chai’, believe me, that’s what my mom would say. And here’s the recipe to the perfect cuppa.
- 3 Cups Water
- 3/4 – 1 Cup Milk
- Sugar (to taste)
- 2-3 Tsp. loose chai tea (I’m using the Society one)
- 1 piece of ginger (small)
- 2 pods of cardamom
- A pinch of saffron
- A pinch of fennel
- A pinch of cinnamon
- A pinch of clove
*Fennel and Cinnamon are warming for the colder months and especially great if you have a cold, I just don’t crave it in my chai every time.
In a large pot, boil the water and add the loose tea and sugar. You must add the tea leaves based on how deep or light you like your tea, I lean towards the 3-3 1/2 Tbs tea as I like mine ‘karak’ (strong). Indian tea leans towards the sweet side, so I add around 2-3tsp. of sugar (you can do less or more, based on your preference). Grate a small piece of ginger. Note, that I’m grating the ginger instead of chopping it as it makes the flavour release quickly and potent. We want maximum flavour, minimum brewing time. Add saffron and cardamom to the pot.
On a low-medium heat, let the tea boil (and brew) for 3-4 minutes. Quick tip here: Keep fluctuating the temperatures from low to medium whilst waiting, as you give the tea a sort of a shock-wave to brew quickly and then bring it back to a slow release. This change in temperatures really helps bring out the ‘strength’ in the tea leaves. Stir the tea one at this point.
Now, add the milk and wait for the tea to boil. Repeat the fluctuating temperatures from high-low whilst this step as well for the next 2 minutes. Bring it off the stove and let it sit for a minute before straining.
Serve with biscuits or rusks, or my personal favourite, a side of bhaijyas.
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