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Well, what got me through exam nights in Delhi University

was the wonderful Khada Chammach (standing spoon)

masala chai from the thela-vaalas outside the hostel walls.

They also sold wonderful bun-andas and parathas.

We had dragged out a broken old table to set against

the wall, to stand on and conduct our transactions over

the wall, after the gates were locked at night (curfew ~ 8 pm).

The best masala chai:

boil everything: bad quality tea leaves, milk, and sugar

thoroughly for a long time. In fact, go right ahead and stew it.

Otherwise the spoon would not stand upright in it :)

Throw in the masala early in the process:

Smashed green cardamom (pods and all)

slices of fresh ginger

coarsely smashed peppercorns.

a small pinch of haldi if you have a cold.

(Actually I found the whole concoction very medicinal

and soothing when I had a cough / cold - substitute

honey for the sugar for best anti-cough effect).

Serve in little disposable clay "kulhad" cups.

Adds that earthy fragrance......

Biodegradable and employs otherwise marginalized

"sons of the soil"......

Nothing beats this IMHO. Until recently I'd never heard

of putting cinnamon, fennel, etc in masala chai

Milagai

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Hi, I'm a brand newbie. This is how I make chai:

Boil together 6 cups water, 2 cups milk, 2 slices fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon stick, 6 green cardamom, 6 cloves, and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Simmer 5 minutes, then remove from heat, cover the pot, and let spices steep a bit. Add tea (I like PG Tips) and return to boil. Cover and simmer 5 minutes more. Strain and serve.

I love the rich flavor of the twice boiled milk.

In winter, I add black peppercorns and bay leaves and perhaps fennel seeds to the masala.

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Thanks for the article, Monica. Always nice to see other people's takes on older parental types showing love and care with food, as well as a facet of what it means to hold onto people who are important to you.

Now I need to figure out who I should make chai for... My friends and chosen family, they all don't like it and are either unapologetic coffee drinkers, or in the case of my partner, just can't stand tea with anything else added except water. Hmph. On the other hand, I could sip it all day while munching on savory spicy snacks.

Pat

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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The chai thread is probably not the right place to mention this, but I've recently started making sensational coffee in the thick, Turkish style, using palm jaggery. This is a dark, complex tasting product and it goes perfectly with strong coffee,

Vikram

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Most Parsis drink their tea the English way, hot water poured in a kettle with loose tea and a couple of (leelee chai stalks - lemon grass), almost all my friends and relatives have it growing in pots in their gardens, whenever we had tea someone would go out and grab some fresh "Leelee Chai" literal translation green tea and sometimes we even added fresh mint, I have several friends in the USA who grow it in their gardens or in colder climates in their houses but it just doesn't do that well. Milk and sugar are added after you pour the tea in your cup, some people add sweetened condensed milk or half and half for a richer tasting tea. For some reason the taste just isn't the same here as it is back home. Every time I visit I just can't wait to have my first cup of tea and miss it terribly when I come back

Edited by Yasmin (log)
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  • 7 months later...
For a non-traditional Chai try using Maple Syrup as a sweetener-not a lot.

The mid-weight syrup adds a dimension of smoothness and a fullness to any Masala/Tea combo-exquisite!

most of the 'chai' touted by non Indian vendors in the US, coffee shops etc list honey as the sweetner, perhaps for the same reason.

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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  • 1 month later...

Though the thread has been very old, here is my version of the Masala Chai.

The following spices , I believe, are very essential - Put everything except Ground Black pepper in the very beginning and boil it. Ofcourse this is not something you can make every day but if you make a blend of all these spices and keep them ready, you would not need to add tea leaves. So the Masala Chai I suggest is actually a Chai from Masalas and is caffeine-free.

a) Ginger

b) Black Peppercorns, coarsely ground, not very fine

c) Fennel Seeds

d) Cardamom Pods

e) Cinnamon

f) Crushed or powdered Mulethi (very little - a pinch) - called sweetwood or Glycyrrhiza Glabra

g) Agya Ghas or Indian lemon Grass - contains a volatile oil for flavor.

h) Wild Violet flowers (Viola Odorata)

i) Nutgrass (Cyperus Rotundus Tubers)

j) Black Cloves

k) Green Tea (Haril Chay) - which is beneficial

l) Kesar - Saffron to bring warmth

m) Arjuna Chhal (Terminalia arjuna bark - good for the heart)

Instead of milk, you can use condensed milk for extra flavor. Thats what they do it here in Dubai. Instead of sugar, try Jaggery. You will love it. Jaggery should not be dark brown or crystallised.

Disclosure : We retail the above blend on one of our sites as a medicinal tea but I use it here for pleasure.

Regards, Sonzy.

Puneet Aggarwal "Sonzy"

Friendly advice on Indian CuisineSonzysKitchen.com

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  • 1 month later...
  • 9 months later...

What a great forum! I am actually having a chai tea problem someone may be able to help with. Since I was in India in September, I've been trying to recreate the chai tea I had there. I actually have the taste about where I like it (I'm definitely going to try the fresh ginger and peppercorns, though), but the problem I'm having is that something (milk sugars?) always burns on the bottom of the pan, no matter whether I heat it fast or slow, stir a lot or a little, or add the sugar early or late. The burn scum on the bottom actually doesn't seem to affect the taste of the tea, but it's a pain to clean!

The way I'm making it is adapted from the way they showed me in Bhopal. I bring skim milk to a boil (they used half water and half whole milk, but I drink skim and when I tried half water with it, it tasted like nothing - using all skim milk is just creamy enough), then add my mix of sugar and crushed cardamom pods (brought home from India) and cinnamon, and the tea (which I also brought home from India). Then when the color gets "right," I strain it. I use a Teflon coated pot.

The only major differences in the way I do it and the way I was shown in Bhopal is that they used the whole, unpasteurized milk, and they probably used a copper pot. I really like making it with the skim milk because I like the consistency and because it's the only dairy product I use enough of to be able to have it on hand all the time.

Any suggestions?

"God give us good taste, why bother?" Captain Jim's Sushi Chef
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but the problem I'm having is that something (milk sugars?) always burns on the bottom of the pan, no matter whether I heat it fast or slow, stir a lot or a little, or add the sugar early or late. The burn scum on the bottom actually doesn't seem to affect the taste of the tea, but it's a pain to clean!

Any suggestions?

Try any (or all) of the following:

1) If you have one, use a stainless steel rather than Teflon pan. I find that boiling milk sticks to Teflon in a different and more unpleasant way than it does to stainless steel.

The milk will still stick to some extent with stainless, but cleaning it off is easier, since you can simply scrub without worrying about damage to your pan surface.

2) Use a flame tamer. This will definitely slow down the process, but it will eliminate sticking either totally or to a large extent. If you don't have one, you can improvise by putting a cast iron pan or tava between stovetop and pan.

3) Do your preliminary heating of the milk in a glass container in the microwave. Then add spices, tea, whatever and finish it off stovetop. The milk has less overall time in contact with the bottom of the hot pan = less overall sticking.

4) If you are happy with the taste you're already getting, you may not want to do this, but try making the tea first, then adding in the milk and boiling further. Again, less time that the milk is making contact with the bottom of the hot pan.

Hope you'll report back with your results!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's my report back:

Try any (or all) of the following:

1) If you have one, use a stainless steel rather than Teflon pan.

Tried my stainless steel pan - scum was pretty much the same and a bit harder to clean out.

2) Use a flame tamer. This will definitely slow down the process, but it will eliminate sticking either totally or to a large extent. If you don't have one, you can improvise by putting a cast iron pan or tava between stovetop and pan.

Unfortunately, my stove is electric. I tried to get my landlord to upgrade us to gas when we got our new stove, but we were told the pipes were too old.

3) Do your preliminary heating of the milk in a glass container in the microwave. Then add spices, tea, whatever and finish it off stovetop. The milk has less overall time in contact with the bottom of the hot pan = less overall sticking.

Tried this - heated it until the milk was steaming - same scum.

I liked all of your advice, but the two most practical for me didn't work :sad: . I guess that's why people scald milk in a double boiler. But I still don't understand why they were able to bring cold milk (whole mixed 1/2 with water) to a boil in India without it burning while I can't bring skim milk to a boil.

Maybe I will try using a little water to make the tea and then just add hot milk from the microwave. I don't want to ruin my Teflon pans!

"God give us good taste, why bother?" Captain Jim's Sushi Chef
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I make tea all the time and my ratio usually is half cup of water to every cup of milk.I make it entirely with skim milk too.In any case there is always a little scum/residue sticking to the pot -more in case of a nonstick one as compared to a stainless steel one.It is however not much of a pain to clean,you can just run some hot water in the pot and leave it to soak for a while.it usally takes just a little scrubbing,to get it off.alternatively you could spread some diswasher gel like cascade and let it soak for a while and than scrub it off.Its not all that hard to get off at all.All this holds true for a stainless steel pot,I have totally given up on heating milk in a nonstick pan .

You could try heating your milk in a microwave and adding it at the end,but i guess bringing the whole thing to a boil in one pan is what gives chai its special flavour!

And by the way,i have never had a sip of chai in my life-but i do make it for my husband and other family members.

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If you rinse out the pan with water before adding the milk, it seems to stop the milk adhering to the bottom of the pan so much.

I sometime use a home-made clatterplate by putting a small saucer upside-down in the bottom of the pan - trapped bubbles force the saucer to clatter up and down on as the milk reaches boiling point, alerting me before the milk boils over :raz: but I also feel that it seems to distribute heat better and keep the bottom of the pan cleaner.

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  • 5 years later...

So, 6 years later.....

I make masala tea every now and then, and I never seem to get the same degree of spice intensity as I've got from restaurants and tea shops in the US, UK, and Persian Gulf (as close as I've come to India). Last night I boiled coarsely ground spices (about 5 cardamoms, 3 cloves, some cinnamon, 3 peppercorns) and water for about half an hour and it smelled lovely, but when I added milk and tea, I could barely taste the spices. Tonight I simmered about double that in some milk thinking the milk fat would extract the spice better, but I just got thick, milky, sweet tea with only a hint of spice. What is the secret to really making the spices stand out?

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Maybe your spices aren't very fresh? For masala chai in my family, we use a chunk of fresh ginger, whacked with a rolling pin or something so that it is completely crushed, some whole green cardamom, some whole cloves and a few stick of cassia. This goes into the water and boils for a short while (definitely not half an hour), then in goes loose tea, wait for a moment for colour to start coming then milk and sugar and boil for a while more. Ginger is the most important, IMO :)

Edited by Jenni (log)
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