January 31, 2012 § 5 Comments
India’s most popular beverage is chai and no matter where you are, there is always someone trying to sell you chai. This winter break I travelled to India and spent some time at the beach. Everyday as the sun began to set, the chaiwallah, person selling chai, appeared and strolled along the beach selling chai. On the train the sound of chai, chai, chai echos throughout the compartment as the chaiwallah paces up and down the train. Surprisingly train chai is some of the best chai in India and only costs 10 cents a cup. My kids loved this sweet and milky chai so much that they would keep the exact change ready in their pockets for when the chaiwallah came around.
The recipe for chai varies greatly from region to region and can be made by simply boiling water, milk, tea and sugar together. Street chai in India is usually made like this in a big pot with loose leaf tea and strained into small clear glass cups. Chai can also be made with the addition of spices and the recipe varies in each region based on the climate and availability of spices. In areas with a cooler climate, chai is made with spices that have warming qualities like ginger and served in larger size glasses.
My recipe for chai is very simple and focusses on the soothing flavour of cardamom. You can try adding other spices to the chai, keeping in mind the balance of the flavours of spices. If you really love chai and don`t always have the time to make it fresh, you can find a full spectrum of chai products at chai.com. At chai.com, you can find tea bags, loose leaf tea, liquid concentrates and chai latte mixes by organic and fair trade companies and also conventional brands. Chai.com sells interesting flavors of chai like coconut green tea chai, chocolate chai, and white Ayurvedic chai to name a few. On cold and raining days in Vancouver, I find it never hurts to keep a couple of tea bags handy.
Cooking time 20 minutes
Makes 2 large cups
2 cups (500 ml) water
5 cardamom pods
1 tsp thinly sliced ginger
2 tsp (10ml) loose leaf black tea or 2 tea bags
1 cup (250 ml) soymilk
1 tbsp (15 ml) sugar
1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
2. Pound the cardamom and clove in a mortar and pestle and add to the boiling water.
3. Simmer the spices on medium heat until the oils release a fragrant smell, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the looseleaf tea or teabags and boil until the desired darkness is achieved, around 2 minutes.
5. Remove the teabags and add the milk. Turn the heat to high and bring the chai to a boil.
6. Add the sugar to the boiling mixture and turn off the heat.
7. Strain the chai before serving and enjoy.