Sunday, 6 April 2014

Masala Chai

They say if you want to take the political pulse of India, head to a chai stall. Indians love their chai and Indians love to talk politics. So, why not combine their love for both at the chai stall. Journalist, politicians, pollsters and anyone and everyone who wants to know what's on the mind of the Indian people, get their information over a cup of chai!

And starting tomorrow, the world's largest democracy begins voting for the General elections. And the numbers are staggering as they always are in India. Spread over 6 weeks, 9 phases, 543 election constituencies and 814 million voters, this is democracy's largest spectacle!

And this election, the humble cup of chai has occupied centre stage. For any non-Indian reader, it all began when Narendra Modi was projected as a national party's Prime Ministerial candidate. His life story has a modest beginning. As a young boy, he worked as a chaiwallah (tea vendor), a point he proudly states, to show how far he has come in life.
So, when an Opposition politician mocked him on this very fact, he responded as a true politician. He and his party launched an unique programme where he reached out to voters across the length and breadth of  this vast country, through videoconferencing so that he could interact with voters and answer their questions. The points of contact for these interactions, no guesses, were all chai stalls! So, in elections 2014, India's most favoured drink also became one of the most overused words of this election.
So, what goes into a cup of chai? It is a concoction of black tea, milk, a few spices and loads of sugar. And chai is a very emotive issue for most Indians. We are extremely picky about how we like our cup of chai. A cup of chai in the morning that does not make the mark is almost an omen on how things are going to go for the rest of the day.
And no two cups of chai are ever the same, be it from a home kitchen or a chai stall.  And moreover, the way tea is made in India is intuitive and instinctive, refined and adapted to one's taste. So, it is almost futile to write a recipe that will satisfy all. But, I did come across a recipe by Anjum Anand that is aimed at non-Indians, to give you an idea of what goes into that cup of chai that India cannot get enough of! It is more of a master recipe that is to be adapted to your liking!

So, now that we have discussed how the humble cup of chai made its way to the heart of Elections 2014 campaign, there is only thing left to do. Go and cast your vote India. Your vote is your voice. The time has come to speak up and be heard!!

Masala Chai

Source: adapted from Anjum Anand's  ' Indian Food Made Easy'

  • 350 mls water
  • 100 mls milk
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 8-10 green cardamom pods
  • good pinch of green fennel seeds
  • small shard of cinnamon
  • small piece of ginger, peeled and rough sliced
  • 1 tea bag or 2 teaspoons loose tea leaves (use a black tea blend)
  • sugar, to taste
  • With a mortar and pestle, lightly bash the peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cinnamon and the ginger.
  • Place the all the ingredients, except the sugar in a large saucepan. If you are using a tea bag, it would be preferable to cut it open and add the contents to the milk and spices.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for five-ten minutes. The longer it will simmer, the darker will be your tea and stronger will be its taste. Be careful, as the mixture can boil over. If that is about to happen, remove the saucepan for a few moments, swirl the mixture and put it back on the heat.
  • Remove from the heat, strain and add the sugar according to your taste and serve hot.


  1. Very interesting post, love chai tea!

  2. One can never have too many variants of masala chai! So Im so going to make this.. probably better for the morning because it is blistering here, and I have given up the evening cuppa.

    Love the glasses! I recently bought a set of chai-stall type of cutting glasses for 10 bucks a piece at a local market here, and Im dying to break them in. This is going to be a good way to do that :)

    Lovely pictures as usual..

    1. 10 bucks a piece!! Am coming to Goa and you are taking me shopping!! and these cutting glasses also look cute if you wanna serve individual dessert portions like say chocolate mousse!!

      and coming to this recipe, it uses saunf and pepper, I have never used the two in chai.. I usually stick to elaichi and ginger.. but the saunf is a pleasant surprise!! I liked the flavour!! And lets not talk about the heat.. it is a very sensitive topic with me!!

    2. Just made this.. SO fab! Are you on instagram?

    3. Unfortunately not!! :( and I know that means I am missing out on a lot...

    4. Only because I instagrammed my chai and was wishing I could tag you :) Come join the bandwagon.

    5. I know I know... u made this chai with all its trapping??

  3. Umm, Ummm, oh no, I love chai, as in not masala chai!! It's the one drink I can't handle! It's the cardamom and fennel seeds that makes me feel like I'm having a milky cordial to cure an upset tummy! So while I have to say no, thank you, I also have to say that I really enjoyed reading this post. Hope there's better times to come for India. Lord knows it's needed.

    1. 'Milky cordial'... hahahahaa!! trust you Carrie to come up with that!! I hear you on masala chai.. personally I am a coffee person..but you'll agree everyone is so finicky about their morning chai... you mess with it at your own peril!

    2. Oh I love my tea. Don't get me wrong, I am in a murderous frame of mind if I don't get strong, kadak, sweet tea first thing, before a word (or grunt) comes out of my lips. Also one at exactly 4.45 pm, before the madness of the dinner hour strikes! Tea is not a drink, tis a way of life. Fact.

    3. You sound like my mom.. she is no fan of the masala chai.. but needs her cup of Darjeeling, first thing in the morning and then in the evening.. and if she doesn't get it.. know the rest...:)


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