Thursday, July 1, 2010

Drinks Around the World: Masala Chai (India)


I have only been to India once but my endearing memory is of the superb and varied masala chais served throughout the country. Whether sold by a jaunty chai wallah (someone who serves or sells tea) at a railway station or sold from a rickety stall, heated on charcoal stoves and poured into a clay cup for a few rupees, the sweetened and strongly spiced brew acts as an uplifting instant refresher. I drank at least one cup every day seeking the wonderful Indian markets for the most rustic examples. The smallest villages had chai wallahs eagerly endorsing their fine products.

While recipes and ingredients vary from maker to maker, the primary ingredients are cardamon seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger root, fennel and black peppercorns mixed with black tea in boiling water. Strain the tea and spices, add a generous amount of sugar or honey to bring out the intensity of the spices and add milk to taste. While chais are sold in packaged form in Australia (and probably America and Europe), none capture the delicate spicy sensation brewed in India from scratch.

Mostly, masala chai was served with a flamboyant high lift of the pot, ceremoniously poured into a cup from a distance. Chai captures the essence of India and is an experience not to be missed in this remarkable and culturally varied nation.
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At the start of every month, Travel Wonders highlights a characteristic drink experienced on his travel. Previous non-alcoholic Drinks Around the World include Mint Tea from Morocco, Vietnamese slow-drip coffee, Coca Tea from Peru and Austria's herby Almdudler.

Photo Credits: Smoky stall, mixing chai

19 comments:

Kristina said...

i have never been to india, but if there is one thing that i love then it is chai tea!! would love the try the original one in india, must be amazing!
viele grĂ¼sse, kristina

India Travel Packages said...

You are absolutely right...masala chai of India is a great refreshing drink...

India Travel Packages said...

Indian masala tea is a great refreshing drink

Donna Hull said...

Yes, packaged Chai drinks are available in the U.S. Although I've never been to India, from your description, masala chai is far superior.

Mark H said...

@kristina: Nothing like getting it from the source.

@india travel packages: Thank you.

@donna: Chai is available in Australia too but it doesn't taste the same to me from what I remember of the drink in India.

Anil said...

Definitely not the same in taste (or experience!) outside of India. The streets of India are teaming with wonderful drinks and foods - many visitors are often scared off but are truly missing out.

Heather on her travels said...

I love that super hot sweet milky taste and hopefully no stomach problems from this as it's endlesly boiled

Mark H said...

@anil: I agree that they are missing out. Sometimes people need to be a little brave to expereince the riches of foreign food and drink.

@heather: I never had any problems with chai. I think boiling should make it good and safe, though I know several who wouldn't go near such a drink in India for fear of poisoning. They missed out on a special experience.

Australian Visa said...

Excellent post. Nice blog. I'll be back for more of your post mate.

Jaipur Hotel said...

This is quite interesting post. Masala Tea is very good refreshing drink. http://www.laxmipalacehotel.com.

Mark H said...

@australian visa: Good to hear froma fellow Australian. Thank you. Please come back regularly.

@jaipur hotel: Thank you.

Savaari said...

The taste is really refreshing of this Masala tea.

Mark H said...

@savaari: Very refreshing - evn on the hottest of Indian days.

Vacation Packages India said...

Definitely not the same in taste (or experience!) outside of India.

Mark H said...

@vacation packages india: A unique Indian experience...

Honeymoon Vacation Packages said...

Nice post

Rajasthan Tour said...

Masala chai of India gives a real experience in winter.

Mark H said...

@rajastan: Masala chai seems os quintessentially Indian.

Mark H said...

@rajastan: Masala chai seems os quintessentially Indian.

 
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