Most Indian foodies have one item that is their favorite treat. For me and well, I think it’s safe to say for many of the other Indian foodies out there, it’s chai. The luxurious scent of Indian tea wafting through the house in the morning is a treat I just can’t live without.
Chai is THE drink of India and nothing like the weak, watery “chai” you get here in the US at street corner coffee shops. Real chai is strong, dark and aromatic. In India, tiny carts pepper the cities, selling chai at every street corner, train station and bus station; giving everyone the chance to indulge any time of the day.
Indians are very VERY picky about their chai. No two Indians like their chai the same way and they’ll have no problem instructing you on how to make proper chai. I say with great pride that many Indians who come to visit Hubby and me are fans of our chai…and by our chai, I really mean my Mummy-ji’s chai.
When I want to mix it up a bit from the regular plain chai, I love to go for the sweet taste of cardamom chai. This is a good intro into spiced chai. There are all kinds of chai recipes, my favorites being plain, ginger and cardamom. I’m sure you’ll become just as addicted as Hubby and I are. This chai goes great with a few pieces of cake rusk to dip into your chai or a plate of melt-in-your-mouth cardamom cookies…or biscuits as they are called in India.
For this recipe, you are going to need some green cardamom pods or seeds. There is green cardamom and there is black cardamom. Green is much sweeter and it’s what is used for the chai. Whole green cardamom comes in the form of little green pods that you peel open to get to the sweet smelling seeds. You can buy them whole or you can buy just the seeds if you like. I like whole cardamom because the seeds are much more aromatic when freshly crushed. Although, I also have the seeds on hand for convenience. They can be found in the whole spice aisle at the Indian grocery store, sometimes labeled as green or black “elaichi”, the Hindi name for cardamom.
The type of tea you use will make or break any tea recipe. The tea we always use is the brand Wagh Bakri, which can be found at most Indian stores. Other good brand options are Tata Tea and Brooke Bond Red Label, both of which are available at Indian stores.
If you cannot find any of these at least make sure the tea you use is an Indian black tea but it should also be loose leaf. Using tea bags will always result in a watery and tasteless chai that is honestly not worth drinking.
The sugar I recommend in this recipe is the amount I use when serving guests, however feel free to use as much or as little as your sweet tooth desires.
Note: If you want to cut the recipe in half for just one cup, still use two spoons of tea, otherwise it will turn out too weak and watery.
Time: 15 minutes
Serves: Two 8 ounces cups
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Indian black tea
4 cardamom pods, crushed (or 1/4 teaspoon. cardamom seeds)
1 cup milk
In a medium sized pot, heat 2 cups of water over medium-high heat.
add 2 tablespoons sugar
and 2 tablespoons black Indian tea
crush the cardamom pods, skip this step if using cardamom seeds
add the cardamom to the pot
Once the tea begins to boil, set the timer for five minutes and let the tea mixture gently boil.
After the five minutes, add a cup of milk and turn the heat down to medium so the milk does not boil over.
Once the milk begins to simmer set the timer for five minutes, then, set it aside to cool to drinking temperature or you can drink it pipping hot!
Strain the tea
Watch Mummy-ji’s chai video.