In India, Masala Chai is everywhere! Literally everywhere. From the tiny tea shop on the corner to the fancy restaurants in five-star hotels, everyone has Masala Chai on the menu. This warm spicy drink is my go-to comfort beverage (after turmeric milk) and the aroma of spices will uplift your senses too.
Culture in a Cup
And yet, for something as common as Masala Chai, this drink has a unique flavour – EVERY SINGLE TIME. No one cup ever tastes the same as the next one. Whether it is served at street-side carts or in your friend’s living room, every vendor, every family has their own recipe. There are even contentious arguments about the technique. “Do you boil milk with tea leaves,” or are you in the “Boil water with tea leaves and add milk at the end?” camp? There’s a difference. The quantity of milk, the exact point at which it is added and the combination of spices. So much can make a difference in the flavour and aroma.
If ever there was a drink that perfectly represented the multi-faceted, multi-coloured culture of India, Masala Chai would be that drink.
But I’m not here to comment on Indian culture or to take on the Aunties in a “my recipe is the best” debate. What I am here to do is to share with you my mom’s Masala Chai recipe. It is fabulous and the spices will warm you from the inside out.
There is something to be said about the slow process of boiling water in a saucepan, adding spices, ginger, tea leaves and letting it all simmer together. Your kitchen smells amazing and after that first sip come on over to Instagram and drop me a DM. I know you will love it.
Make it Your Own
After all that buildup, this had better be good, right? Yes – it is. So good that I brought to my last TV appearance on Canada’s favourite talk show ,The Social on CTV.
Here is how you can make the spice blend at home.
This spice blend is based on my mother’s recipe. It can stay in an airtight jar in a cool dark place for months, ready when you need a warming cuppa to lift you up. Once the blend is prepared, here are steps to make your Masala Chai at home.
In my version, I brew the spice blend and ginger to bring out the flavour and essential oils. I add a couple of black tea bags at the end (or tea leaves) and turn the heat off. If you let tea simmer for too long the flavour changes and so I add it at the end. Add a splash of milk at the end along with sugar if you like.
The best way to have Masala Chai is to serve it piping hot and with a friend. That’s why the two cup recipe.
This tea with its aromas of ginger, cardamom and other warming spices, is the ultimate cold-weather comfort. For more ideas about warming winter drinks, see Indian Kahwa and Orange Peel tea.