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?
‘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.
‘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
- half and half
- fennel or anise seed
- green cardamom pods
- 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)
- Put seven cups of water in a large pot or saucepan and set over high heat.
- 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.
- Peel a half inch piece of ginger and cut into thin strips. Add to the pot.
- Once the water reaches a boiling point, add two tablespoons of tea, four tablespoons of sugar, and a cup of half an half.
- Stir and let steep for five minutes.
- Pour the tea into individual mugs to serve, straining as you pour.