Chai or the mandatory evening concoction which is drunk in almost every North Indian home after 4.00pm everyday (and at various other times as wanted by the avid tea drinker) is more than life for those who love it. It is a style statement,a way of life,a status representation and most important – an analysis of taste as in almost every home the taste of the tea is different and there are bets,competitions and stakes on who makes it best on cold winter days when people huddle around coal or wood fires and speak about anything from historical days to their college days and the future generations suffering under the modern technology. Cups and cups of tea are drunk,analysed (the washroom being used frequently owing to the copious amounts of liquid going into the systems of those who sipped it with the utmost concentration).
My grandma’s tea was one of a kind – fragrant,aromatic and at the same time with the subtle notes of fresh ginger and cloves – the heady aroma of the tea already transpiring into the adjacent house and sometimes when the neighbours could not help it,would come asking for some tips on recipes or seeing our garden as it was famous in the colony. And they would come all the way to the kitchen and see the tea merrily boiling away looking like a million bucks and immediately ask “Chai ho jaaye”? which means “shall we have some tea”? No one could refuse that and the elders would sit on the manicured lawn and have that heavenly tea while we children used to play,jump,hop and run with either fresh juice in the summers or hot milk or drinking chocolate in the winters.
When I was induced to cooking,my grandma let me first do what I wanted (of course it was mostly a hurried affair sans the taste for which I got lectures about my carelessness which were carefully stored in my mind and later applied when I did the thing on my own) then told me where I went wrong and made me do that again. The very first thing I therefore learnt was the famous and great Chai Masala which was praised by many a mouth which used to give the opinion of the best tea on earth to all and sundry. So come winter and the cups of tea were multiplied – the family members,neighbours,the electrician,gardener,house helps and family friends….it went on and soon I learnt the awesomely fragrant and wonderful secret of the masala which I wish to share with you.
The best thing about this masala is that you add 1/2 tsp for 2 cups of tea along with a tsp of grated fresh ginger and then that is it – you award yourself with a cup of the most fragrant and delicious tea which does not need any accompaniment and is great by itself. I take 2 hot mugs to work, one for me and the other for my bestie who absolutely loves the Chai! My grandma would be watching from heaven with a smile on her face that the stern reprimandings have borne fruit in the best way possible.
This recipe was entered for the 169th FoodieMonday Bloghop where the theme was Beginner’s Recipe – the recipe you first learnt. So this was the first recipe I learnt – Chai Masala! Let me share it with you all!
NOTE : The Cinnamon and whole black pepper was gifted by Vidya Narayan and hubby when they returned from Coorg last year!The love and authenticity made the masala more special!
Preparation Time : 10 minutes
Makes : Approximately 100 gms of Masala
3 – 4 sticks Cinnamon (Dalchini)
5 – 6 pods Cardamom (Elaichi)
1 tbsp whole black pepper
1/2 tbsp ginger powder
1 1/2 tbsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp Nutmeg Powder (Jaiphal)
1 tsp Cardamom Powder (optional) – a combination of roasted as well as raw Cardamom makes the aroma more special
You can use readymade powder but the taste and aroma will not be as great as roasting and powdering the spices.
Roast the whole spices on low heat for 7 – 10 minutes. Do not use a high heat as the spices will blacken and the pepper will make you sneeze.
After 5 minutes of low heat roasting you will experience one of the most heady and wonderful aromas – like an aromatic candle just lit!
Empty the spices on a ceramic or stainless steel plate to cool down. Let them come to room temperature and dry grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight bottle.
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