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Masala Chai-An Indian Beverage To Die For!

I am sitting here is absolute Chai heaven.  Seriously.  I’m so happy about this recipe that I am smiling stupidly at this computer screen, and I keep taking my fingers away from the keyboard to take another sip–this post could take awhile because of this tasty distraction. It is sooooo good!

I have made 2 different Chai recipes in the last 2 days.  I liked the first one, but now that I have tasted this second one, I know I have the Chai Tea recipe that I hoped to find.  I’ve had Chai tea on my brain ever since a Friday night a few months back, when I stopped at one of our local Indian Restaurants.

The restaurant is called Taj Mahal.  I walked in to order take-out on a Friday night.  It was fairly late, so they were not busy.  The owner greeted graciously in his heavy Indian accent, took my order, and motioned to the bar showing me where I could sit and wait.  He headed toward the back, and before the door shut behind him I saw him grab a pan in an empty kitchen, which excited me, because it meant that he would be the one cooking our meal.  A few moments later, he returned with a teacup in one hand and a pan in the other.  He had made a complimentary cup of Chai Tea for me to drink while I was waiting.  I watched him pour the contents from the pan into my cup using a fine mesh strainer sitting atop of it.  As the pan emptied, towards the bottom were all kinds of interesting shapes and shades of loose tea, seeds, and pods; browns and greens.  I was intrigued, excited and touched by this man’s kindness.

cardamom pods

Needless to say, that cup of Chai was authentically amazing, and I have craved another ever since.  This is SO much better then the Chai concentrate that you can buy in a box.  There is no comparison!  I am quite pleased that it only took a couple of tries to find a recipe that comes very close to the cup of Chai that I drank at Taj Mahal.

The recipe comes from Sabra @ One Life To Eat.  It is a blog I just recently discovered on the basics of Indian cooking.  I can’t wait to explore her blog more, as I would love to learn how to cook Indian food!
I loved this post she wrote about Masala Chai.  She talks about memories of her father making it in the mornings and evenings, and some history of Chai tea.  She also had this to say about the different ways it can be made:

Every Indian you talk to will probably also have his / her own favorite method of preparing Chai. Variations include brewing the loose tea leaves in boiling water, brewing them in milk, brewing tea leaves along with spices (known as Masala Chai) and brewing the chai with pieces of ginger (known as Ginger or Adrak Chai). Some like their chai weak, some like it strong. Some like more milk, some less. 

Her process is simple and detailed at the same time.  Hers is thicker and flavored with ginger & vanilla.
I think it is perfection and my search for a Chai recipe ends here!

To make 2 mugs of Chai – You will need:
  • A medium sized saucepan
  • A small sieve
  • 4 heaped teaspoons Red Label or Society tea, available at any Indian store **I used loose Darjeeling
  • 1 inch piece of ginger root
  • 6-7 cardamom pods, slightly opened
    • 3 tbsp sugar (I used processed white sugar, going to try pure cane sugar next time)
    • 1/2 Vanilla stick (optional) (I used a splash of pure vanilla extract, added it at the very end)
    • 1.5 cups water
    • 1.5 cups whole fat milk
    • Heat water to a boil in the saucepan
    • Add the tea leaves, cardamom pods and ginger root and allow to brew on medium heat till the water turns a golden brown color
    • Add the milk and reduce heat to low. Add the vanilla stick and sugar at this stage. Mix well
    • Allow the tea to boil gently and thicken on low heat for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the saucepan as the Chai may boil over
    • Turn off the heat and let the liquid rest in the saucepan for 2-3 minutes. This lets the temperature of the liquid come down a bit
    • Pour through a sieve in your favorite mug. (*or mason jar:))

Do not be intimidated by the exotic ingredients.  I took a quick trip to my local health food store, where they have bulk bins for the Darjeeling tea and the cardamom pods.  I had ginger root in my freezer, and everything else on hand.  I personally think whole milk is a must to achieve the creamy texture.  My only complaint about this recipe is that it doesn’t make more!  I would love to double or triple it and keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  My first cup was hot, but now I am drinking it over ice and OH. MY. YUM!
This post is linked to:
Get Your Craft On @ Today’s Creative Blog