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Masala Chai

Masala chai is a sweetened indian mixed-spice tea of black tea leaves boiled with assorted spices and  milk. I’ve been waiting to blog about Masala Chai as this has become my specialty after my friend’s dad made me my first cup of chai, oh so many years ago to accompany our meal of homemade chapatis.  Since then, I have made this many times as a favourite after-dinner request. This is one of those recipe requests that have gone unanswered because I often just estimate the amount of spices, tea and milk based on number of cups required. However, due to this guestimation, I get varying results, a hit and miss concoction; sometimes a full bodied flavoursome brew, othertimes a sugary, weak and bland mud coloured water. I have taken the time to document the recipe over this weekend and with the help of dinner companions to sample; my first brew wasn’t satisfactory as it was too sweet and lack that creaminess even though the spices came out strong. My second brew last night was just how I like it to be and I can finally claim my very own Foodsze Chai Masala blend! Of course, there are endless spice combinations; fennel seeds, star anise (just go nuts!) but the following ingredients are what I normally use. So to all my cousins who like this tea, next time, make me one. Hehe..
 
My blend is quite intense so if you’re not into strong spices, then you can reduce the amount of spices used but I’m not sure if doing this might remove the ‘ kick’ factor intrinsic to the enjoyment of this tea. You might pespire a little due to the addition of old ginger which is warming and more pungent than young ones reserved for stir-fry dishes. Ginger’s great for aiding digestion, hence we have this after dinner.
 
For the purposes of this recipe, I kept sugar at 4 to 5 tablespoons for a 7 cup brew but this can be altered to suit your taste. I used rock sugar instead. It is a crystalised sugar commonly used in chinese ‘tong sui’ (sweet dessert soups) and I’m not sure if its just me, but I find that rock sugar imparts a better flavour to the tea. Hmm..how should I put it, it is not as sweet and doesn’t have too much of that saccharine-like character. Raw sugar works well too!
But you do need to sweeten the tea to bring out the flavour of the spices. So it’s a case of finding the perfect level of sweetness…not over, not under.  
 
Just a note with the tea-leaves, generally, loose-leaf assam black tea is preferred but my favourite everyday tea is Tetley’s Big Cuppa blend which contains 20% more tea than the usual 1.8g teabags. It’s strong and well-rounded so I love it! Converted, for this recipe, it’s about 17.6g of loose-leaf tea or approximately 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of loose tea.
 
Foodsze’s Masala Chai Blend
Makes 6 – 7 cups
 
Ingredients
8 Tetley Big Cuppa tea-bags
20 cardamon pods
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 piece 5cm (2 inch) old ginger
5 cups water
2 cups fresh milk
4 to 5 tablespoons raw sugar OR  to taste
(I substitute sugar with 2 medium-sized
(about 5 cm diameter) rock sugar crystals)
 
 
Method
  1. With a pestle and mortar, lightly crush the cardamon pods to release the aroma
  2. Bash the ginger until completely flattened.
  3. Fill a pot with the water, add in all the spices and ginger and bring to rapid boil.
  4. Add the sugar in and continue boiling for a further 3-5 minutes so the liquid’s infused with the spices.
  5. Throw in the teabags and let steep for about 1 minute.
  6. Pour in the fresh milk and bring back to the boil (see note). Reduce heat and simmer for a futher 2 – 3 minutes.
  7. Taste and adjust level of sweetness as required.
  8. Strain tea through a cloth strainer to remove all spices, tea bags, loose tea leaves or powder.
  9. Pour into cups and serve warm

 Notes

  • After adding the milk, do not take your eyes off the stove. I have made this mistake so many times and I still don’t learn. Milk or cream can overboil and overflow, leaving you an unpleasant mess to clean up. 
  • Sometimes I add a spoon of creamer (Coffee Mate) OR milk powder to make it slightly more creamy. 
  • Condensed milk is frequently used in Teh Tarik to sweeten the beverage so you can substitute sugar with condensed milk in this chai and reduce the amount of fresh milk used. And yes, ‘pulling’ the tea from a height helps with the mixing and flavour so if you are dexterous unlike moi, pull the tea to your hearts content. 🙂
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3 comments to Masala Chai

  • Vyanne

    Yesterday’s tea was oh so yummy: just enough punch from the spices and mild sweetness from the rock sugar! I wanted more but found the pot in the sink, boo hoo…

  • Mei Sze

    Hehe..I’ll make more next time..
    Mama Masala Chai at your service 🙂

  • Moyang

    Haha you gals are funny!
    Love all the photos in your food blog! Absolutely had me gaga-eyes and salivating! Do keep it coming