Recently making a big splash in the US, this concoction alters the traditional flavors slightly to cater to more Western tastes, with a focus on ginger, cinnamon and vanilla. The aromas wafting out of this cup are fantastic, spicy enough to wake you up before you even take a sip.
“Masala Chai” simply means “mixed-spice tea,” and across North India it can be found in countless local secret-recipe variations. The most common combination is cinnamon, cardamom, clove, nutmeg, and black pepper. These five spices, sometimes called “panch masala” (literally “five mixed-spice”), also provided the name for exotically-spiced fruit “punch” and are ubiquitous in Indian cooking, especially sweets.
Traditionally boiled in huge metal kettles with whole milk and loads of sugar, chai is poured from high up to aerate and cool it, served in tiny glasses or clay bowls with a pinch of fresh masala on top, and enjoyed frequently throughout the day.
Steeping Time – 3 Minutes
Water Temp – 212 F
Black tea, ginger root, cinnamon, green cardamom, ginger and vanilla flavors.
RECIPE: If you would like to try a more traditional taste, you can make the following masala topping at home:
3 T cloves
¼ C cardamoms
1 ½ T black peppercorns
2 sticks cinnamon
¼ C dried ginger powder
1 t nutmeg powder
1. Combine cloves, cardamom, black peppercorns and cinnamon in broad non-stick pan and dry roast on medium for 1 minute.
2. Allow to cool, then add ginger and nutmeg powders and use a coffee grinder (a spare one, or you will have to wash it *very* thoroughly) to grind to a smooth powder.
3. Store in an airtight container (fresh up to 4 months).
4. Sprinkle liberally on top of your freshly-steeped tea and sip immediately.
You can experiment however you like with masala chai! Try different spices (other Indian favorites include saffron, fennel, mace), add flavored sweeteners and soy or nut milks – anything goes! Just don’t call it a “Chai Tea Latte” (literally “Tea Tea Milk”).