Masala Chai: A Spicy After Dinner Treat

Masala Chai: A Spicy After Dinner Treat

No dinner is complete without a little something sweet to savor at the end. With Indian food, chai tea is a quick and easy way to round up a meal.

Chai tea is a bit redundant, actually. In Hindi and many other Indian languages, ‘chai’ just means ‘tea.’

So let’s be a bit more specific.

Masala…like Chicken Tikka?

The ‘chai’ that you find in Tazo teabags, at Starbucks, and served at most Indian restaurants is actually masala chai.

‘Masala’ simply means ‘spice,’ so it can easily apply to most edibles: meat, tea, rice, etc. The particular spice mix used for masala chai is actually the same as garam masala, a popular spice mix.

chai tea spices by Gabi

‘Garam’ means hot, but this spice powder isn’t what gives Indian food its racy kick. I would describe it as more of a sweet mix actually. Cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom are typically used to flavor desserts, and that’s why this tea makes a perfect post-meal treat.

When to Serve Chai

You could be British and enjoy your tea precisely at four p.m. Everyday. But I’m advocating more of a post-dinner diversion here.

In India, it is very typical to have a cup of chai or strong coffee after a meal. The concept of finishing a meal with tea or coffee is present in so many cultures, but it seems to have fallen out of favor in contemporary America for some reason.

Since I like traditions, I have tried to review this one in my own home, always offering espresso or French press coffee. But when I make Indian food, I brew a big pot of chai to dole out to guests after we eat.

A sweet, warm, creamy drink is a lovely thing to savor along with friendly conversation.

Enjoy! And let me know if you have any questions.

Masala Chai Recipe

Prep time: 10 mins
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

  • half and half
  • fennel or anise seed
  • green cardamom pods
  • cloves
  • cinnamon (stick, not ground)
  • ginger root
  • black pepper corns
  • bay leaves
  • loose black tea (use an Indian variety, like Taj Mahal if you can find it)
  • sugar

Method

  1. Put seven cups of water in a large pot or saucepan and set over high heat.
  2. Add 2 anise starts (or 1 tablespoon of fennel), 6 crushed cardamon pods, 1 cinnamon stick, a pinch of peppercorns and 2 bay leaves to the water.
  3. Peel a half inch piece of ginger and cut into thin strips. Add to the pot.
  4. Once the water reaches a boiling point, add two tablespoons of tea, four tablespoons of sugar, and a cup of half an half.
  5. Stir and let steep for five minutes.
  6. Pour the tea into individual mugs to serve, straining as you pour.

Enjoy!

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