This is a light hearted write-up dedicated to ‘chai’ and for people who savour it. While browsing through some old collection of photos, I just happened to come across this photograph that I had taken long back on 13/08/2014 and thats how the idea of writing this came about.
Now as we head towards the winter solstice; when the days become colder & shorter, nights become longer & darker- the chai becomes hotter (garam) & stronger (kadak) 😉 Every morning a cup of tea is literally an eye-opener (pun intended). In mornings, while slurping the steaming beverage infused with ginger (adrak), cardamom (elichi) or spices (masala), we discuss the work to be accomplished during the day or browse through the newspaper and in the evenings, a hot cup of chai is just relaxing. Also, in my travels, it has been a constant companion and is a omnipresent beverage across India. Only if you go south wards in India, switching to coffee might be a good idea but rest of the times chai rocks!
While travelling abroad, Dubai and Malaysia offered some great tasting variety of tea. In 2012’s Dubai, I could buy tea for 1 Dirham (approx. Rs. 18) in which they pored a concentration of Lipton Black tea and added a dash of condensed milk. It was the Arabic way of making tea as I got to know later. Then in 2014’s Malaysia I tasted what is called- ‘Teh Tarikh’, loosely translated as ‘pulled tea’ you would understand why its called so once you see its process. It costed 1 Ringgit (approx. Rs. 18) and had a unique & refreshing taste.
Now next few lines is bit of a rant on USA’s wrong understanding of what tea is, from the perspective of a Indian chai lover. In the beginning of Fall 2015 semester, in July when I was yet to come to terms with the thrill and joy of living in the mid-western state of Illinois, everything was just perfect except one thing- that I needed to figure out as to how would I get myself the daily quota of chai that I needed?
It used to be sunny out side but with constant chilly winds blowing. It was called summer but the temperatures were just around 26° celsius and in winters it went very low to an average of around -15° celsius. Now in such weathers a hot beverage is a must and what better than Chai? If you visit Starbucks or any cafe there, you would be lured by fancy names such as- ‘Chai Tea Latte’ and all you would get in the name of tea is- a cup of hot water, a tea bag, stirrer and you can help yourself with cream and sugar, it was quiet disappointing and just missed the point. Instead of spending the dollars on this namesake tea it was better to just take some efforts and make it myself. While studying, whenever the time and weather was right, making & sipping a steaming hot chai in cozy room with the heater on and snowy view outside was quiet rejuvenating 😌
For friends who are not familiar with Indian chai, below is the recipe and preparation. Well it’s fairly simple. Just boil a cup of water (approx. 250 ml), add sugar to taste, add 2-3 spoons of black chai patti (tea leaves), then add crushed ginger or cardamom or both, let it simmer for some time, then add a cup of milk (approx. 200 ml) and let it boil for sometime. In a few minutes, when it gets a nice brown colour like that of a earthen pot, pour it in a cup through a strainer. Now sit back with the cup of hot chai, slurp it and enjoy! You might end up liking it or you might realize that it’s just ‘not your cup of tea’ (again, pun intended 😉)
Now as I finish writing this, it feel like making myself another cup, let me know your thoughts on how you liked the chai and this write-up…off I go…slurp slurp slurp 😌