Today I’d like to invite you for a cup of authentic Indian spicy tea. Masala chai or simply chai is nothing more than a combination of spices (masala), strong black tea, milk, and sugar. It is very popular all over India and here in our Himalayan region you can enjoy a cup or two at any stall. And just like Indian desserts, this tea is very sweet.
If someone offers you a cup of masala chai, it is rather rude to say no to it. I love to be invited for a cup by the locals who together with the tea share their warm hearts with me. I remember having my first cup a few years back – my whole face turned into one big grimace because of the sweetness! When I asked my friend Muna who owns a tiny store in our village how much sugar he puts in his cup of tea, he replied two tablespoons! Well, Coca Cola has some serious competition here…
Chaiwallas and glass cups without handles
Traditionally, masala chai is poured into glass cups without handles or very small cups. In the town of Varanasi, for example, you can enjoy your tea in a small clay cup which you’re supposed to smash on the ground once you’ve finished! What a funny custom…
Men that make and sell the tea are called chaiwallas. It is a national custom to savor a cup of this sweet & spicy masala chai during tea breaks, usually with a piece of pastry.
To be honest, I have fallen for the tea and can’t imagine my day without it, especially during the winter. You could enjoy your dose of this little miracle during breakfast or in the afternoon with some cookies. I got a recipe for chai from the locals but believe me when I say that the combination of spice and the amount of milk and sugar depend on your personal taste. Every time I taste the tea, it has a different taste!
Most of the time, masala chai is made from water and milk. I, however, make it only from milk in order to attain a rich taste. It is also important to let the tea brew for a while so that the spices have enough time to release their flavors.
Masala chai and its cousin
Since I live at the foot of the Himalayas where the Indian culture meets Tibetan customs, masala chai also meets its cousin – Tibetan butter tea. Its preparation is very simple, too, but I’m personally not its big fan. I promise I’ll share the recipe for Tibetan butter tea with you soon so that you can see for yourself.
How do YOU like your cup of masala chai?