Masala chai is a drink which instantly transports me back to my childhood. It was the drink my grandmother would prepare for me every morning, and I would rush downstairs in excitement for. It was the most delicious time of the day, when I would enjoy the warmth and sweetness of the drink through slices of hot, buttery toast.
And yeah, it was pretty awesome.
Chai is such a pivotal drink in Indian households – come 4pm, most Indians will enjoy a hot cup of chai and some naasto (Indian savoury snacks). Whilst we do not have this ritual in my house, chai is still a drink we consume daily.
Nowadays, my tea of choice is often PG Tips sans sugar and spices. But every once in a while, I treat myself to a cup of the real deal: proper masala chai.
Masala chai = spiceD tea.
The literal meaning of masala chai is ‘spiced tea’. Chai means tea, and there are many types of chai – masala chai being one of the most popular.
Masala, on the other hand, means spices or spice blend. There are different types of masala, from garam masala to pav bhaji masala, and of course chai masala, which is what we are using today.
Masala chai spices:
The chai masala you will find in most Indian households varies. Some prefer to roast and grind their own chai spices, whilst others will brew the chai with whole spices in it.
In our household, we buy pre-ground chai masala from my cousin’s spice mill – Jalpur Millers. You can buy the chai masala I use here.
The common spices in chai masala are cloves, cardamom, ginger, and peppercorns. You may also see ginger, star anise, fennel seeds, or nutmeg.
Masala Chai ingredients:
To make this masala chai recipe, you’ll need just 5 ingredients:
- Tea leaves
- Chai masala
- Milk (of choice)
Sugar is essential to making perfect masala chai. With all the spices in your chai, it will taste bitter without some sugar!
Tip: To make your chai naturally sweetened, use equal quantities of maple syrup or agave instead of the sugar.
How to make masala chai:
Masala chai is really easy to make. Simply add the tea leaves, chai masala, water, milk of choice, and sugar to a saucepan. Then cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. This allows the tea to brew and the spices to infuse into it.
After about 5 minutes, turn the heat up to medium high. You want to bring the tea to a rapid boil – you should see it rising up the sides of the saucepan. Just as you see the tea reaching the top, turn off the heat. This process makes our chai kadak or strong.
If you have chai leftover, you can leave it in the saucepan and reheat when desired – the flavours will only get better. You could also serve cold chai over ice, which is in no way traditional, but in many ways delicious.
Masala Chai (Indian Spiced Tea) Recipe
- 1 cup/ 250 ml Milk of choice
- 2/3 cup/ 200 ml Water
- 2 tbsp Sugar or natural sweetener of choice
- 2 tsp Tea Leaves or 2 tea bags
- 3/4 tsp Chai Masala*
- Add the milk, water, tea leaves, chai masala and sugar to a small saucepan. Whisk to combine.
- Cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- After 5 minutes, turn the heat up to medium-high and watch the chai boil. Once the chai just rises to the top of the saucepan, turn off the heat.
- Strain the chai into your favourite mug. Enjoy hot, cookies mandatory.