Monday, April 30, 2012

Masala Chai

"एक cutting चाय मलाई मार के!" How many times have we heard/said this in our life! Be it at the college canteen or the office mess, this is a popular refrain. I was never a tea person. Infact, you would be amused to know that till I got married and moved to the States, my beverage of choice was Bournvita! Even at office, people would make fun of me coz I could not participate in the afternoon tea/coffee ritual! Once I started working though, I would have the occasional cup of coffee when working late hours or to ward off a nagging headache! But tea - that was never something I was tempted to try.

Then I got married! My husband drinks only tea - no coffee, no hot chocolate, nothing but tea! So, I had to learn to make tea :) The first time I tried tea was on my honeymoon. There was this road side shack on our way from Munar to Thekkady in Kerala - my first experience having "Elakkai Chaaya" (Cardamom Tea) in a light drizzle amidst all that greenery and I was hooked! I don't quite know what it was - the weather, the scenic route or the tea, but that experience stands out in my memory.

 I still prefer coffee over tea, but have gotten pretty good at making tea, even if I say so myself! I first learnt to make tea from my husband - अदरक एलैची वाली चाय or ginger cardamom tea was a staple for him. Then I gradually went on to search on the internet and try out various combinations before I settled on this masala powder recipe. Now I regularly make tea for friends and family and am constantly asked how I make it, as they seem to like it a lot.

So, I thought, why not post the recipe on my blog. Here goes my recipe for Masala Chai...

 I usually make the chai masala powder and keep it stored in a dry airtight container for a couple of months (apart from when I have friends over, I make tea mostly during weekends only as hubby leaves early for work and has tea in office during weekdays). A little bit goes a long way and they stay fresh for a couple of months - have never had it last more than that though, so no idea how long you can store them.

First let's tackle the masala recipe:

Preparation: 5 minutes                    Makes - ¼ cup

Dried Ginger/Saunth - 1 inch piece
Black Cardamom/Badi Elaichi - 2
Green Cardamom/Choti Elachi - 8-10 pods
Cloves/Laung - 8-10
Black Pepper Seeds/Kali Mirchi - 8-10
Cinnamon Sticks/Dalchini - 2 small sticks
Lemon Grass - 1 teaspoon, powdered
Star Anise/Chakra Phool - 3-4
Nutmeg/Jaiphal Powder - ½ teaspoon


  • Grind everything together into a smooth powder in a dry mixer/coffee grinder.
  • Store in air tight container and use whenever you need it.

Now on to the actual tea...

Preparation: 10 minutes           Serves: 2

Loose Black Tea - 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons (depending on how fresh and strong the tea leaves are)
Freshly grated ginger - 1 teaspoon
Chai Masala Powder - ¼ teaspoon (recipe mentioned above or you could use store bought as well)
Cardamom Powder (crushed green cardamom pods) - ¼ teaspoon
Water - 1 & ¼ cup
Milk - ¾ cup (I use 1%, you could use whole milk as well, though I wouldn't recommend fat free)
Sugar - to taste

  • Take water, freshly grated ginger and chai masala powder in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
  • When the water starts boiling, add the tea leaves and let them boil for about 5 minutes.
  • Next add in the milk and cardamom powder and switch of the flame once the milk boils over.
  • Filter out the tea using a tea strainer and serve after adding sugar to taste.

Tea is best served with cookies/biscuits or scones and some savory snacks. Or if its a cold/rainy day, a plate of steaming hot crunchy pakoras is a must!

Handy Tip:
You could just crush the ginger with a mortar and pestle and add instead of grating it.
If you prefer the tea to be more milky and less strong, reduce the quantity of tea leaves and water and increase the amount of milk used.
Just remember, there is no hard and fast rule as to how much tea leaves you use or how long you boil it before adding water, just go along with the flow and you will gradually get a hang of how to go about making a cup of hot tea!


  1. scrolling down i felt like i am drinking tea...:)

    1. That's a wonderful thing to say (or should I say write!) - Thank you Rekha :)


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