May 22, 2013
If you see Heart of India Trip Leader Sujay Lall, he’ll probably have a cup in hand, filled with Masala chai—India’s national drink. Spicy and milky, its refreshing taste is just one of the many diverse flavors that make India such an intriguing destination for foodies. Even though Americans are more often coffee drinkers, imbibing a few new things is part of the adventure here. This tea-based beverage is a holdover from British colonial days—but what makes it uniquely Indian is an enriching historical lesson, too. The word chai merely means “tea” in Hindi; adding the “masala” means that the spices are included.
Sujay has worked for OAT for eight years, and says that once his travelers sip chai for the first time, most of them have it at least once a day for the duration of Heart of India. Here is his recipe—just one of the many he shares with travelers, as he considers himself a cook.
4 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
3 cups water
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp black tea (decaf or regular)
- In a mortar (or coffee grinder), crush the cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon.
- Transfer the crushed spices to a small saucepan; add water, ginger, and pepper, and bring to a boil.
- Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes.
- Add the milk and sugar to the pan, return to the stove, and bring to a boil.
- Remove from the heat and add the tea.
- Cover and let steep for 3 minutes.
- Stir the chai, then strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups. Serve immediately.