Monday, January 31, 2011

The very important art of making chai

It's been particularly chilly the past few weeks and while it had its downsides such as slippery slopes rendering one unable to leave ones house, it did provide plenty of opportunities to drink chai. Incase you didn't know, I love chai. Thewritemama recently asked me how I make chai and I realized that while I've spoken of my love for all things chai, I've never shared how I make my chai. While there are a million and a half variations on how to make chai, this is the way I make mine. The recipe is for two people because chai shared is joy doubled.

Everything you need

A sauce pan
While most days I boil up some hot water, toss a tea bag in a cup and pour hot water in, proper chai is mixed chai and for this you must have a trusty sauce pan:
photo source here
Cups
You might be thinking, thanks for adding cups as an essential component of chai making Aisha, otherwise I would've poured the drink into my cupped hands. Yes, cups are obvious but its important to pick the cup you'll use pre-chai-making because it doubles as the measuring cup. I pick the size according to my needs, like today after a late night with friends, I opted for this:


Whereas K who is diehard loyal to his sports team generally drinks out of his trusty mug regardless of the day or the moment:


Everything else

Loose Tea. I used to only use yellow label tea until my brother and his wife bought us some Putnam & Mason and now that's one of my favorites too. Good quality tea leaves matter as does the necessity of buying loose tea. Bagged tea is okay but the papery veil removes a great deal of the true flavor.

Cardamom. Just one or two is enough.

Sugar. At the moment I have 'sugar in the raw' but my true preference is white sugar.

Milk. My parents swear by whole milk and while that tastes best I opt for 2% because the taste difference is minimal and I will get more overall use out of 2% as opposed to a gallon of whole, of course you could also buy a pint of whole milk to use exclusively for chai. Due to nursing I don't drink as much as I otherwise would so 2% works for me.

Water. My tap water rocks but my parents get water from the grocery store while some use home filtered water. Water is truly important in the ultimate flavor so make sure the water you use is the purest you can find. 

Strainer: Used to pour out the tea when you're done.

Directions
  1. Fill up your chai cup to the rim with water and pour into the sauce pan.
  2. Turn the stove on high to bring water to a rapid boil
  3. While water is warming up, place the cardamon in a small bowl and with the back of a spoon press down back and forth crushing it slightly. If you have a mortar and pistle this works better. Drop the cardamon into the pot.
  4. Once the water is boiling reduce heat to medium and put two teaspoons of loose tea. [Some people add an extra teaspoon 'for the pot' while others put far less loose tea using one teaspoon for two cups. This really depends on how strong of a brew you prefer.]
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and brew for three minutes [I brew on lower heat to reduce evaporation. You can brew as long as you like depending on how strong you want your drink]
  6. Return to medium heat and add one chai cup of milk. [This is a matter of personal preference too, I prefer my chai on the milky side, if you don't then up your water and reduce the milk to get the color and flavor you want].
  7. Once the milk begins warming add 3 teaspoons of sugar. [Or more/less based on your preference. I prefer my sugar cooked in but some like to pour it in once the chai is in the cup, its up to you]
Extra Step [optional]:  I like my chai well cooked so I wait until the milk begins bubbling, about to pour out of the pan and spill out. This is tricky since its a matter of seconds before its bubbling and pouring out all over the stove so vigilant watch is required but so worth it for me. This is how it usually looks when its just about to bubble out:

Use the strainer and pour yourself out two beautiful lovely cups of chai:

As you can see with all my [parenthetical] caveats chai making involves trial and error as you figure out how sweet, strong, milky you want your drink but once you figure it out? Bliss in a cup. Have a different take on chai making? Do share! If you found this helpful I'd love to know as maybe I'll throw recipes into the regular blogging mix.

12 comments:

mystic said...

Ise kehte hain "asli dudh patti chai"

Maza gaya!!! - Best post from you so far!! (I print it out...HAHAHA)

Lori said...

Ohmigosh! That looks so delicious. I am going to try it, but first need to get to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients...Thank you for sharing your recipe, and BTW, thank you so much for the award!!
Lori

sprogblogger said...

Oh yum! I'll absolutely be trying this! And yes! Please! Regular recipes! Yum!

Aisha said...

Mystic- glad you enjoyed it, LOL :) Best post so far- that's saying a lot conisdering you've been here from practically the beginning!

Lori- glad its something you'd like to try! Some of these things I get from my local indian/pakistani grocery store- not sure if they're available at regular grocery stores. And welcome on the award, I enjoy your blog though I am a silent reader generally.

Susan, thanks for letting me know :)

Sonya said...

Now I want some chai!

Did you make this post to convince our friend who is anti chai to reconsider her opinion hehe? ;)

Aisha said...

Hey Sonya :-) Nice to hear from you! lol- huh- that's a good point maybe I should send this to her ;)

PandaBear said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I love tea but especially like chai, I will try this!

Jenn said...

I like! :D

Aisha said...

Panda, do let me know how it turns out!

Jen, thanks :)

'Murgdan' said...

I am so glad you posted this, because after another post you wrote about drinking Chai, I was wondering how you made it...and the tea called "Chai" that I've bought at the store never tastes anything like the "Chai" that I've gotten at restaurants. So.....I'm gonna give it a try! :-)

Aisha said...

You can't buy 'chai' at a grocery store! I mean, hou can- but it won't taste like the chai you drink at a desi restaurant. Please let me know how it turns out!

Anonymous said...

hmmm. this looks like a very simplified chai. what about ginger, cloves, and cinnamon? cardamom is only part of the story......

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