Friday, March 13, 2009

The Art of Making Masala Chai - Part I

When I WWOOFed at the farm Artisans de la Terre in Canada over the summer (I had an AMAZING experience by the way. WWOOF is a program in which you volunteer on a farm, in exchange for food and housing), I had the great opportunity of learning how to make masala chai from a fellow worker who had spent a couple of years in India.

Chai is simply the word for tea in used in many cultures (1). However, in the U.S., the term chai generally refers to Indian masala chai, a tea made with a sweetner, milk, and spices (1). There is no one recipe for masala chai. Masala chai in India is like coffee in the U.S., is often sold in the streets or by street vendors known as chai wallahs in India, and Indian families each have their own unique way to prepare it (2).

How I make masala chai:
  • I put milk in a pot and add water to the dilution desired.
  • I put in the following (from top to down and left to right as seen in the picture): black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, freshly ground nutmeg, star anise, ginger, a little sugar (usually, but not always, sucanut), black tea, green cardmom, and coriander seeds.
  • Stir everything together, than cover the pot and bring it to a boil.
  • I leave the pot to simmer, usually for at least an hour. (Be careful that it doesn't boil over!)
    -I usually taste the tea every now and then. I sometimes adjust the amount of spices, add a little milk, or add a little water, according to taste. I leave it on the stove until I like the taste.
  • Strain the spices out.
  • That's it! Enjoy!

Ok, so that is the simplified version...and you may have noticed that I didn't put in any measurements or specific times. Um, and don't expect me to give you those, either. Sorry! Unfortunately, I am leaving it up to you to figure out these specifics (joy!), which will differ depending on how you like your chai. Look for my advice tomorrow- when I will try to explain the different factors that will influence the amount of ingredients that you put in and the time that it takes for you to make masala chai!

No comments: