This blog post is all about chai.
I love how this BBC article put it: “Tea is India’s most popular drink – the country consumes 837,000 tonnes of it every year. The ritual of drinking chai transcends all boundaries, and roadsides are dotted with chai wallahs who serve it boiled up with spices, sugar and milk” (emphasis mine).
Never have I gone to someone’s house without being offered chai. In fact, “offered” is too gentle a term. It is very much insisted upon as an agreement of the giving and receiving of hospitality. But it’s so much more than that.
Chai or Coffee?
In many ways, Americans can relate to the importance of chai in a culture, as we have similar feelings about coffee culture. Both of these warm drinks give you a pick me up in the day. They orient your morning (and afternoon). Both drinks can be customized if you’re feeling fancy. Both are familiar and comforting, and both chai stands and coffee shops can be found on every corner. There is one key difference, though. Chai is not served on the go. Never have I seen an Indian doing something as insane as walking with a chai cup in hand. Chai is for pausing.
At our office, Pushpa makes us chai at 11am and 3pm. In the winter, she adds ginger to keep you warm. That’s my favorite.
Today, I hung out with her while she made chai for just a few of our employees. And so I give you:
Pushpa’s Famous Chai Recipe
For 10 people (adjust to your needs):
-2.5 cups of milk
-1 cup of water
-6 teaspoons of loose tea
-4-5 tablespoons of sugar
-a nice pinch of cardamom
-a hunk of fresh ginger if you want some extra warming goodness
Pour the milk and water into your pot. Add the rest of the ingredients on top. Set it over a med-high flame until it boils. Reduce the flame to low-med and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes more. You’ll know when it’s done because it will have that nice chai color to it. Pour it through a strainer into a pitcher. Pour it into a small tea cup or glass conical shaped chai cup.
Enjoy alone with crackers (or as we call them here, biscuits) or fruit. Pause. Rest. Be stationary while you drink your chai. Then go on with your day.
(If you are looking for some fun tea towels for your tea time, check out a Ziyada favorite here!)