Mum’s Perfect Cup of Masala Chai

Mumbai’s monsoons – just the right time for a cup of hot tea with delicious Batata Vadas.

Granting us some much-needed relief from the scorching sun, the monsoons arrived this June bringing with them the smell of fresh, wet mud, cool winds and not to mention the city’s celebrated potholes, traffic disorders, Tata Sky woes and the flu. But the monsoon season also means we get to enjoy a cup of garam garam masala chai with deep-fried Batata Vadas or potato fritters.

Now, I can boast to you a number of meals that I can whip up in no time. However I am deeply ashamed to admit that I cannot, simply cannot make a cup of steaming hot tea. Pretty sad for a twenty something Desi, huh? I normally rely on Girnar’s ready ginger tea sachets, but the truth is, they’ll never be able to match up to Mum’s version of masala magic. And the best part is that you don’t have to wait for the monsoons to enjoy it.

Therefore, pretty ladies and men who enjoy that perfect ‘cuppa’, I give to you Mum’s Perfect Cup of Masala Chai – the immaculate recipe for an afternoon tea party, a headache, a lazy Sunday or even a hard day when all you want, is to steal a moment for yourself, sit by the window and ponder.

Ingredients (makes 2 cups)

2 ½ cups water
¾ cup toned/skimmed milk
3 tsp sugar
2 tsp tea powder (I buy local, fresh CTC lose tea)
¼ inch piece of peeled ginger reduced to pulp in a mortar pestle
8-10 fresh mint leaves
6 stalks fresh lemon grass (approximately 3 inches in length)
2 pinches of any Indian tea masala (dry)

Method

1. Put the water and milk to boil. To that, add the sugar, half the ginger and tea masala
2. Boil for 2-3 minutes or until you get the aroma
3. Add the tea powder and stir well with a spoon
4. Bring to a boil 3-4 times, alternately reducing and increasing the heat
5. Check for the perfect medium to dark colour (Refer to the picture)
6. Turn off the heat and seal with a lid for half a minute
7. Open and add the rest of the ginger, mint leaves and lemon grass. Put the lid back on and leave it for another 3 minutes.
8. Strain into a lovely teapot* and serve immediately.
9. You may serve the tea with vadas, samosas, or flavoured cookies**

*Remember, presentation is as important as taste! You do not want to serve your delicious tea in a not so pretty teapot.

** Biscuits are too old school.

Quick Tip: Leaving the lid on your tea for an extra three minutes will help ensure that all the beautiful flavours are sealed in. You do not want to skip this step!

Enjoy!

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