There is not a time for tea because anytime is tea time!
I’m so excited to share this recipe for my favorite drink – masala chai. The masala chai that I grew up with is definitely a different breed than the chai latte you get from Starbucks. So before we get started, let’s talk about what masala chai is and how it’s interwoven into Indian culture.
My first introduction to masala chai was through my grandma and it was love at first sip. She loved making chai for everyone, especially after lunch when we get into a food coma since chai is the perfect pick-me-up. Growing up, whenever we had house guests, my mom would prepare some chai and I would lend a helping hand. It’s so interwoven into the Indian culture that I’ve never met anyone who didn’t grow up with chai!
If you ask any of my friends, they all know how much I love chai, but they don’t know that what I truly love is the conversations and quality time that we share over chai. We have a saying called, “chai pe charcha”, which basically means: “conversations over chai”. Throughout my life, some of the best conversations and connections I’ve had were all made over a cup of chai so I have a lot of good memories with it and I hope the same for you as you make this cup of chai with me and share it with your friends and family.
As some may say, “chai is more than just a recipe, it’s a feeling.”
That’s why I love trying masala chai at different shops whenever I see it on the menu. No, I’m not addicted (ok, maybe a little bit). Many chai makers have refined their recipe through generations and as you taste the variety of masala chai personas, you might also get inspired to create your very own balance of spices. Believe it or not, even with the same recipe, each person’s chai tastes uniquely their own.
Ready to make your own chai? Here, I will be sharing a traditional masala chai recipe, using fresh ingredients only. The whole tea-making process is an aromatic and culinary experience. I love to just get immersed in the process and create something new every time but one group of spices always stays while some other ones are optional and you can play around with them to create your own taste of masala chai.
So, let’s get started.
Traditional Masala Chai Recipe
Serving Size: 2
- Water – 1 cup
- Milk – 1 cup
- Black tea – 2 tsp
- Sugar – 2 tbs
- Cardamom – 7-8 pods
- Ginger – 2 tsp
Spice It Up (Optional)
- Star Anise – 1-2 pods
- Black Pepper- A pinch
- Cinnamon – 1/4 of a full stick
- Nutmeg – A pinch
- Cloves – 1-2 bud
- Bring water to boil, the ratio of water to milk is generally 1:1 but of course you can change it depending on if you like it more milky or more watery.
- For this recipe of 2 cups of chai, take 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil.
- Start with adding the Masala first, the reason is that if we put the tea first it can become bitter by the time we finish our recipe, so it’s better to start with spices.
- For spices, let’s start with ginger, which needs to be nicely cooked before we add milk otherwise there are chances for the milk to curdle.
- After ginger, it’s time to add in some cardamom, my favorite. It is a cooling spice that has amazing benefits, and adds a sweet aroma to our chai. Take a mortar and pestle and crush the cardamom pods nicely to bring out all the flavor before we add it in. I love the smell of it while I ground it.
- Now that our two main ingredients are in, let’s add in all the other spices, which are black pepper, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and don’t forget the automatic nutmeg. For more aroma, you can also ground these spices coarsely.
- Next, add the most important ingredient, black tea (or some people prefer darjeeling tea).
- Let the beautiful blend simmer and boil into a decoction.
- Let’s add sugar, and I mean we do not hold back while adding sugar but of course you can do it according to your preference.
- Now it’s time to add milk, then let it all boil, ideally would be great to get 2-3 boils up and down before pouring it out as that way it has enough time to blend well.
- Now, good news our masala chai is ready, it’s time to pour it out, use a strainer and straining the chai into your cups and voila your masala chai is ready. But careful it’s hot.
A quote of inspiration for what the feeling of making and sharing chai means to me:
To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.Abraham Lincoln
If you’re interested in learning more about all the spices and how to premake masala powder to speed up your chai-making process, please let me know in the comments! Masala means spices, after all, and I’d be more than happy to take you on a dive into the world of masala.
Lastly, don’t forget to have fun in the process! 🙂
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