Black tea, spices, milk, sugar – that’s masala chai, often known as chai tea. Chai means as much as tea, so the term chai tea does not really make much sense 😉 I got to know this tea during our trip to India some years ago. Although the teas always tasted very similar on the way, the spice blends always give way a bit. As for the milk, the teas were different – and not only in terms of quantity. I found out that goat’s milk in a masala chai is not necessarily my cup of tea… but most of the time the tea was made with cow milk anyway.
Since then I have been drinking masala chai again and again, but I never was a big fan of this seasoning tea.
A Spiced Odyssey: Genesis in India
Embarking on a soulful journey through India, the discovery of masala chai became a tapestry of flavors, where each spice blend echoed the unique essence of every cup. The dance between the spices and the choice of milk transformed this humble concoction into a ritual of taste and emotion.
The Goat’s Milk Dilemma: An Unlikely Companion
In the diverse world of masala chai, experimentation led to unexpected revelations. Goat’s milk, a deviation from the norm, proved to be an acquired taste, prompting a realization that the conventional bovine counterpart often graced the teacups on this flavorful voyage.
Jaffrey’s Influence: Crafting Perfection in a Cup
Entrusting the expertise of Jaffrey, the matriarch of Indian cuisine, the journey took a creative turn. Her transition from ground to whole spices ignited a spark, giving birth to a homemade masala chai that became the epitome of warmth on chilly days.
Spice Alchemy: Tailoring the Aromatic Ensemble
Masala chai, a canvas of possibilities, invited the infusion of additional spices. Star anise, fennel seeds, and a dash of salt joined the aromatic ensemble, creating a symphony of flavors that danced on the taste buds. The essential spices took their place as stalwarts, while the optional ones added a whimsical touch.
The Sugar and Milk Ballet: Fine-Tuning the Experience
In a delicate balancing act, the proportions of sugar and milk underwent a subtle transformation. A meticulous adjustment to enhance the overall experience without overpowering the intrinsic flavors resulted in a masala chai that resonated with both heart and palate.
Milk Foam Elevation: A Crown of Indulgence
A delightful revelation emerged – the addition of milk foam elevated the masala chai experience to unparalleled heights. The frothy crown became the metaphorical cherry on top, turning sips into a symphony of indulgence.
Masala Chai Recipe: Crafting Warmth in a Cup
- 1 petite cinnamon stick (approximately 2-3 cm)
- 4 cloves
- Seeds from 4 green cardamom capsules (discard the outer covers) or 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2x2x2 cm of fresh ginger, flattened with a knife’s flat side (or 1/3 teaspoon dried ground ginger)
Optional but Recommended Spices:
- 4 whole black peppercorns
- 2 pips of a star anise
- 1/3 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 720 ml water
- 3 black tea bags
- 120 ml milk + Optional: hot milk for milk froth
- 4 tsp brown sugar (substitute white sugar)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- In a medium saucepan, combine water and spices. Bring the infusion to a gentle boil, allowing the spices to weave their magic over low heat.
- Introduce the black tea, cover the pot, and let the aromatic symphony simmer for a leisurely 10 minutes over a gentle flame.
- Stir in the milk, salt, and sugar, coaxing the brew to another crescendo until the tea joyously boils. Give it an occasional swirl.
- Strain the elixir through a sieve into a jug or individual cups, revealing the rich tapestry of flavors.
- For those who revel in the frothy embrace of milk foam, whip up some hot milk. Serve piping hot and relish!
>> Also read: How to make Dal Bafla (Dal Bati) Recipe?
Frequently Asked Questions
Masala chai isn’t just a beverage; it’s a journey through memories, a blend of spices that evoke the warmth of shared moments. Each cup tells a story, making it more than just a drink—it’s a sip of nostalgia.
Experimentation is the spice of life, and in the realm of masala chai, curiosity led to trying unconventional companions. Goat’s milk, while not my preferred choice, added a unique twist to the tale, reminding us that life’s flavors can surprise and delight.
Jaffrey’s expertise is a guiding star in the world of Indian cuisine. Transitioning from ground to whole spices, inspired by her approach, infused a new vitality into my masala chai. It’s a testament to the impact a culinary matriarch can have on our own kitchen adventures.
Absolutely! Masala chai is a canvas for your taste buds. The spice blend is flexible, and you can tailor it to your liking. Feel free to experiment and make it uniquely yours.