Masala Chai

The Chai Wallah

It’s the clarion call of the food bazaar. It can be heard on train platforms, at bus stations, on the street outside offices. It’s the distinctive cry of the chai wallah, tempting a thirsty population to slake their longing and sup the milky, sugary, spice-scented tea. It’s as institutional as the British monarch, but a bit more available.

Makes 8 cups

  • 2 pints milk
  • 2½ pints water
  • 2cm fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 10 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 6 cloves, coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 3 standard teabags (use English Breakfast if in doubt)
  • Sugar to taste

Heat the milk, water, ginger and spices in a pan, letting it simmer rather than boil over for about 15 minutes until the volume has reduced a little. The liquid will smell deliciously fragrant and you’ll be gagging to sip it. Take off the heat and drop in the teabags, allowing the tea to brew for a couple of minutes, or longer if you like it stronger. Strain through a sieve into tea glasses or cups and sweeten according to your taste.

Masala chai
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