Chai has always been my first love. The coffee habit came to me much later in life. Funnily, as a 10 year old, I'd be allowed the occasional tea, but coffee was always considered a grown ups' drink in my Tambrahm home. May be a tiny sip of the last dregs from my grandmom's tumbler, but no more, mind you! I think Chai was the first thing I started making in the kitchen. The afternoon tea would be had at 3/3.30 pm, with a couple of biscuits, and then it was time to get things ready for tiffin.
When I go back home to Mumbai, Amma makes the tea at a set time in the afternoons and funnily my 6 year old joins us for the tea. He makes it a point to start nagging her from 2 pm onwards, "Ammama, is it tea time yet?" He is completely in love with her milk and sugar-rich tea and it find it cute how he hangs around in anticipation of a little cup of tea for himself.
After my vacation time at Mumbai when I come back home to Bangalore, I miss the tea times and the taste of Amma's tea. It is something I can never replicate in my kitchen. Like I had tweeted once - give tea leaves, water and milk to a large group of people and ask them to make tea. No two teas will taste the same. It depends on the water used, the quantity of tea leaves, how long they are boiled (or not), what milk is used, how much milk, is the milk boiled, is sugar added to the water or stirred in the end - the possible variables are truly mind boggling.
Come rains and I crave for that steaming hot cup of adrak chai, more than anything else. I can easily say no to pakodas but not to a cup of strong, well made chai, with a bold flavour of ginger. The ginger in the chai should shout out loud, none of those mild there-but-not-there flavours for me!
I often end up using ginger in three forms - yeah, I'm crazy! Fresh ginger - pounded, dried ginger powder and then once the tea is ready, the spice drops form of ginger. The resultant tea screams ginger, and if you are like me, you will absolutely love this. My recipe is for a sweet adrak chai. Feel free to omit sugar or add zero calorie sweeteners, totally your choice :)
Sometimes, adding too much ginger might split the milk when you add it to the tea, so I usually bring it to a boil separately, add it to the tea and not boil them together.
How to make Adrak Chai | Indian Ginger Tea
Makes 2 cups
Time taken: 10 minutes
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, crushed
1/2 tsp dried ginger powder (soonth powder)
3.5 tsp CTC tea*
1/2 cup milk
3 tsp sugar
Ginger spice drops (optional)
In a saucepan, bring the water to boil with the crushed fresh ginger and ginger powder.
Let this boil until reduced a bit (to about 1.5 cups of water). This ensures that the ginger flavours are infused into the water.
Add the CTC tea, reduce the flame and allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the milk to boil in a small saucepan.
Add the milk to the tea, simmer for 2 minutes and remove from flame.
Keep this covered for 2 minutes.
Using a tea strainer, strain into cups. Stir in required sugar and two drops of the ginger spice drops into each cup.
Savour immediately :)
*CTC means Crush, Tear, Curl in Tea terminology. It is the most common form of tea available in the Indian supermarkets.
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Labels: bachelor recipes, beginner recipes, Beverages, Cuisine: Indian, seasonal eating, teatime