As a young girl, I associated waking up on the weekends with a cup of steaming, fragrant chai. It was my job to make it for my parents, and I took my task very seriously. Now my girls make it for me. Neha, my older daughter, has been making chai since she was four and loves it with extra cardamom. It’s what good chai should be—a perfect balance of spice, milk, and sweetness. It’s a shame that in the West, chai is associated with syrup and layers of sugar. I’ve only had it that way in Indian train stations. In Indian homes, the chai is just kissed with a hint of honey or sweetener.
1. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns into a powder. Enlist the kids—they love this part. Using a lot of cardamom is key to this version of chai, but if your tastes differ, feel free to tone it down.
2. In a medium pot over medium–high heat, combine the freshly ground spices (retain the broken cardamom husks), the cinnamon, the ginger, the water, and the tea. Bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes.
4. Raise the heat to medium–high, add the milk, and bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for 1 minute.
5. Strain the contents of the pot into 4 mugs. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of the sugar to each mug and serve.
Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.