Chai, Chai, Chai!
I recently returned from an amazing holiday in Rajasthan. A holiday full of beautiful textiles, wonderful architecture, mad and crazy cities, bustling bazaars and tea!
Everywhere you go in India, you’ll find people drinking tea! It’s the most delicious, hot, spicy chai made with milk, a little water and plenty of sugar. Served in small glasses, or little paper cups just big enough to hold one or two gulps, it was our daily ritual, providing much needed energy to help us navigate the madness of the city! On the trains, the chai walla walks up and down the length of the carriage serving tea from a large metal jug to passengers…you hear him before you see him, with his cries of ‘chai, chai, chai’. For about 20p you can get yourself a steaming hot cup of tea to enjoy on the journey.
It turns out that everyone has their own very special recipe for this national drink. We sampled chai in cafes, on the streets, in restaurants and were even lucky enough to be invited into peoples homes. Every cup was different and very unique, each with it’s own flavour, some spicy flavoured with black pepper, some perfumed with cardamon, some cooked on open wood fires and others on small gas burners. Each one of these wonder cups came with an amazing selection of memories that I will never forget!
Food Tour with Chai!
One of the highlights of my travels in India was a wonderful food tour in Jaipur. We met up with an excellent guide who I stumbled across on Trip Advisor. Raju, who has grown up in the Pink City, took us on an amazing three hour gastronomic experience to sample some of the most delicious street food. We had paneer tikka masala, dosas, chapatis cooked on an open fire, Indian pizza (!) and finally chai.
We met up with Raju a few days later and he invited us to his home, right in the centre of the Pink City, where he shared with us his recipe for this very Indian drink. If you ever visit Jaipur, do arrange to meet up with Raju – his knowledge of the city and his kindness meant we experienced parts of this place often hidden to and unexplored by tourists. He even managed to take me to a shop where I bought the most amazing pairs of big brass fabric scissors….but that’s a story for another time!
A great way to crush your spices!
Raju’s Chai Masala Recipe
Makes Two Cups
Assam Loose Leaf Tea
Milk – fill two cups
Water – half of one of your cups
Ginger – 2cm
Black Pepper – 3 corns
Cloves – 4
Cinnamon Stick – approx 4cm
Cardomon – 2 pods
Sugar – to taste
- Crush all the spices – use the wooden rolling pin and paper method as Raju does in the video or a pestle and mortar!
- Add the Assam Tea, the milk and the water to a pan
- Bring the milk to the boil and add the spices
- Stir, and bring to the boil a second time
- Stir again, add the sugar and bring to the boil for the third and final time
- Using a tea strainer, strain the tea into small glasses
Find somewhere quiet and enjoy every delicious sip!
Chai On The Street
We stopped at this place for what has to be one of the best cups of chai we had (apart from the one Raju made, of course!). Once brewed, the tea was poured into a hot clay cup which was taken straight from a tandoori oven. The hot clay gives the tea an exquisite taste and harks back to times gone by when Chai was served in small clay cups which, when finished with, were thrown onto the streets. Nowadays, small paper cups are used and unlike their organic forerunners, they sit on the ground and add to one of India’s biggest problems – rubbish. Wouldn’t it be great to see these clay cups used in this way again – we managed to find Lassi served in them, so maybe there is a slow return to this old eco culture.
Happy tea making… and drinking!