This is the scene on every Sunday afternoon at my residence in India.
Eschew the bright rays from entering the room, two huge curtains were hung along the large windows of my living room. That made the room bathe in a buttery glow. My dad would be lying in the deewan with a CA journal in hand. His eyes will keep checking the clock every 10minutes and his brain will simultaneously plan on when to start nagging his wife and daughter for a cup of tea. My mom will finally be enjoying her afternoon nap and rest. I will be totally tugged inside the couch with legs stretched over the coffee table and busy browsing the TV and complaining that nothing entertaining exists despite having more than 100 channels.
At sharp 3.00PM, my dad will start asking us to prepare tea. My mom half in sleep and half annoyed will spare a “can-you-prepare-it-look” on me. I give an expression as if I don’t belong to this house and stare at my dad for asking tea this early. Chennai is hot round the year and afternoons are the peak period for maximum heat to drain through the ceiling and that’s when the AC would have reached a pleasant temperature and no one wants to go near the stove to cook anything. So even without uttering a single word, the “NO” is conveyed through our expressive eyes.
One more reminder from my dad at 3.30PM. Still the denial continues from both of us. My mom having lost her complete sleep will instruct me to leave the rectangular Tupperware snack box next to him so that he will munch for sometime and will stop bothering her.
Having felt sad for my dad, my mom would finally wake up and head to the kitchen grabbing a packet of milk from the fridge. I will race behind her, definitely not to help but to watch her prepare the tea. She will first boil little water in a stainless-steel kettle. Periodically, throw in the crushed ginger, cardamon and cloves into the bubbling water. She will then add the tea powder, sugar into the brew and finally pour the milk. With her hands around the hip, she waits for the milk to boil and watches the vessel with furious concentration as they growl and sizzle into the gas stove. The hot tea is poured into a strainer where they drip into a fresh mug. Hot and ready to be served for my dad. His face glows with happiness, my mom spares a flat smile for that and I am back to the TV browsing.
And today, having lost in those memories, I let the tea seethe over the stove. As I grabbed the pan away from the heat, I laughed to myself as how nagging my dad was and those thoughts reminded me of the Sunday moments with my parents. I hugged the mug and closed my eyes to inhale a lungful of its aroma – it smelled of homemade bliss. At the thought of my home, I grew quiet and continued to glance at the empty sky from my kitchen window.
MASALA CHAI SPICE BLEND RECIPE
Source : My mother
Makes close to 2 cups
- 1/4 cup green cardamom
- 1/2 cup cloves
- 1/8 cup carom seeds (Ajwain)
- 1/8 cup fennel seeds (Sounf)
- 2 tablespoon black pepper corns
- 3- 1inch cinnamon sticks
Grind them all together to a coarse powder. Store in an air tight container for a month or freeze for long term use.
MASALA CHAI RECIPE
Source : My mother
Makes 2 cups
- 1 cup water
- 1 large cube jaggery (I use this) or sugar or Agave nectar or Artificial sweetenersto taste
- 1/2 tablespoon masala chai spice blend
- 1-2 tablespoon tea powder ( I use Broke Bond Red Label Tea powder)
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1 cup milk (Fat free or 1% – for SBD/GD women), even 2% or full fat milk is fine too
- Add water, masala chai spice blend, tea powder, jaggery and ginger to a stainless steel pan. Bring it to a rolling boil. Takes about 5-8 minutes on high heat.
- Now add the milk and bring it to a rolling boil, about 5-8 minutes. Simmer the flame and let the tea mixture turn brown (as per your liking), about 5-8 minutes on low heat (simmer). Switch off the flame. Filter the tea using a strainer. Serve hot.
For those in South beach diet phase 1, 2 or 3 and for women with gestational diabetes : You could use splenda or equal (2 teaspoon maximum per serving) or even agave nectar. Since I prefer natural sweeteners, I would recommend agave nectar but if you are trying anything new for the first time, please consult your OB/GYN or dietician for expert advice. 1 tablespoon of agave nectar has 60 calories and I use 1 tablespoon for two of us. That’s a decent amount of calorie for a sweetener and importantly they have low-glycemic index which makes it break down slowly into sugar.
Where could you go wrong in taste?
1. Using more of ginger or spices (ofcourse you could add more if you like the taste)
2. For great tasting Indian chai, I recommend using Broke bond red label tea powder. Don’t add too much water. Indians love to drink their tea with more milk and less water.
3. Once the milk boils over, simmer the flame and let it get a beautiful brown color by simmering for 2-4 minutes. If you keep it for longer time, the tea powder might get over cooked and can make the tea taste bitter.
MASALA CHAI VERSION 2 – DUM TEA FROM OPOS COOKBOOK
This is another effective way to make chai if you are comfortable handling a pressure cooker. United by Food is a secret group created by Rama Krishnan, founder/developer of a cooking technique called One Pot One Shot (OPOS) cooking. If you are a member of that group, you can find the recipe here. True to its name dum tea is packed with flavors. It is strong, aromatic and perfect. It will remind you of the tea that are served in the tea estates inOoty.
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 tablespoon tea powder
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon my masala chai spice blend ( recipe above)
- Dump all the ingredients except water into a 2L pressure cooker.
- Pressure cook for 1 whistle.
- Once the pressure settles down, remove and add your sweetner and water if needed. I like to dilute it.