Chai, or tea, is a popular beverage in India. It is refreshing and tastes delicious. It’s one of the most loved morning and evening beverages, even surpassing coffee. Most people like to have it with snacks to satisfy their mid-day cravings. But there are many different ways to make chai. These recipes differ not just from region to region but often also from person to person.
One of the most popular versions of chai in India is masala chai. Some have it all year long, while some savour it in the monsoon and winter months to feel warm. Each kind of chai has its benefits as it is made from different ingredients. Also known as Kadak chai, masala chai is made by adding spices, sugar, and milk to black tea and then slow brewing it. You can very easily find various chai masala powders too.
Herbs like tulsi and mint might also be added to make it more nutritious and enhance its aroma. Most families have developed their way of preparing kadak chai. The number of spices added, the quantity of milk used, the unique combination of spices and the type of tea leaves, determine the strength and the flavour of the chai. Apart from the taste, various masala chai benefits make it India’s favourite.
There are many kadak chai recipes that you can try to find whichever suits you best. Some recipes require just chai masala powder, while others require additional spices. But before we discuss some kadak chai recipes that you can prepare with or without chai masala powder, let’s find out how to choose the perfect ingredients for your masala chai.
How to choose tea?
Traditionally, kadak chai recipes require loose tea leaves, but now, many different brands of processed black tea are available in granular form. Most brands use two different types of tea. One is Tea Dust, and the other is CTC. CTC stands for Crush, Tear, and Curl. A strong variety of CTC tea is the Assamese tea, and the weaker one is the Darjeeling tea. You can also use a mix of Assamese, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri tea.
How To Choose Spices For Your Chai Masala Powder?
The most commonly used spices in masala chai are cloves, green cardamoms, and cinnamon. But you can also use other masalas such as ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, etc. You can use them to make a pre-made chai masala powder or use them directly while making masala chai.
How to Choose Milk?
You can add milk to your kadak chai recipe as per your taste and convenience. Make sure that you do not add too much milk, as that can cause a change in the taste of tea and cause acidity. The ideal ratio of milk to water is 1:3, or for every ¾ cup of water, you can add ¼ cup full-fat milk to your masala chai.
How to Choose Sweeteners?
You can choose any sweetener to add to the masala chai. Traditionally jaggery, which is a kind of unrefined sweetener, is used in a kadak chai recipe to enhance the flavour of tea, but you can also use cane sugar, coconut sugar, or palm jaggery.
Making the Best Kadak Masala Chai
Given below are two ways to prepare kadak chai. One way is by using spices directly, and the other way is by using chai masala powder.
The ingredients needed for this method are milk, water, sugar, tea leaves, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cloves, ginger and fennel seeds. Additionally, you can also use lemongrass, star anise, and nutmeg in this kadak chai recipe.
You can use any dairy or non-dairy milk to make chai. The ginger should be grated or crushed, and the spices should be lightly pounded before they are added to the boiling water.
Making masala chai is not a difficult task. You need to be careful about a few things to make sure that it does not get very bitter. Start by pouring water into a saucepan and putting it on the stove. Turn on the heat of the stove, and while the water is heating, add crushed or grated garlic to the water. Then crush or lightly pound cinnamon, black peppercorns, cloves, lemongrass, star anise, and nutmeg, using a mortar and pestle to release their flavours.
You can also add ginger to this mixture. Once the water boils, add these pounded spices to the saucepan. You can also add mint or tulsi at this stage. Now, add the tea leaves and let them cook for a while. Now at this stage, you will need to use your personal preference to decide how long the tea leaves should cook. Cooking them for a longer period will make your tea more bitter and strong, and cooking for a less amount of time will make it light and sweet.
Make sure that you let your tea leaves steep to release the flavours. Now add milk and your choice of sweetener to the masala chai. Let this cook for a while before turning off the heat. Now let your masala chai sit for a couple of minutes to get all the masala chai benefits from it. Now use a mesh strainer to strain the masala chai and pour it into a cup.
If you plan on drinking masala chai frequently, then a smart choice would be to make chai masala powder at home and store it in a container. Alternatively, you can also use store-bought, pre-packaged chai masala powder. But making your chai masala powder is not just cost-efficient, but it also gives you the freedom to choose whatever spices you want to use.
The main benefit of chai masala powder is that it can be stored and used whenever you want. You can make it in a large quantity to last for months, or you can make it in smaller quantities to last a few weeks, depending on your preference and convenience.
An essential aspect of chai masala powder is its texture. A lot of people keep the powder coarse because grounding it in a fine texture would mean that it will not get strained with a sieve.
The ingredients required to prepare chai masala powder are cardamom, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, fennel, dry ginger, tulsi seeds, nutmeg. To start, take a heavy-bottomed pan and put cardamom, cloves, and fennel into it. Put on the stove, and dry roast the mixture until it becomes aromatic.
Keep the mixture aside, then take dry ginger and break it. Dry roast ginger separately and keep it aside after it becomes aromatic. Now add tulsi seeds, nutmeg and roast it well. Keep all the mixtures aside to let them cool, and then transfer them all into a blender. Keep blending till it forms a slightly coarse powder. Your chai masala powder is ready. Store it in an air-tight container and use it whenever you want to.
To make tea using your homemade chai masala powder, take a saucepan and add 2 cups of water, 4 tsp tea, and half a tsp chai masala. Boil it for a few minutes before adding 1 cup of milk and sugar as per taste. Boil the kadak chai for however long you want, depending on what kind of chai you want. Once boiled, use a sieve to strain the kadak chai and pour it into a cup to drink.
To help release the flavours from the chai masala powder, make sure you add the chai masala powder while the water is boiling. To reduce the spice of your tea, you can reduce the amount of pepper you add to your chai masala powder.
Benefits Of Kadak Chai
Many masala chai benefits make it a household beverage in India. The first masala chai benefit is that it helps a lot with a sore throat or a blocked nose. Many people consume masala chai when they are sick to warm their throat and feel better. The second masala chai benefit is its taste.
The strong aromatic taste of the chai is because of the spices in the chai masala powder used. It is unmatched and will have you craving for more. Another masala chai benefit is that it helps you keep warm during winters and also helps in maintaining your immunity against diseases. Masala chai also helps with your gut health, digestion and immunity. To get the most masala chai benefits, drink up to three cups every day. Also read
Tips For Making The Perfect Masala Chai
Don’t overcook the leaves
If you let the leaves boil for too long, your tea may become too bitter to drink. To extract all the masala chai benefits from your tea, lower the heat after adding your tea leaves to boiling water and let it simmer. After a while, add milk and sugar. When you boil tea leaves for too long, tannins are released from them, making your tea taste bitter.
Use whole spices
Try to avoid using pre-packaged chai masala powder or store-bought chai masala powder. Using whole spices, or making your masala mix will not just make your tea more flavorful but will also give you more masala chai benefits.
Good quality tea leaves
Make sure to use good quality tea leaves or tea powder in your kadak chai recipe from a brand that you trust. The quality of tea can affect your masala chai and its taste. You can use teabags, but they will not give you the same masala chai benefits or taste as loose tea-leaf tea powder will do.
The ratio of water and milk
You can decide the ratio of water to milk in your kadak chai recipe based on your personal preference. If you want a strong masala chai, you can use 2+1/4th cups of water to ½ cup of milk. However, if you want a lighter chai then you can add the quantity of milk used.
Masala chai is very popular in India and for good reason too. It is not just delicious but also very beneficial. Furthermore, kadak chai recipes are very easy to follow. You can also personalise your kadak chai recipe by adding whatever spice you want to your chai masala powder. To enjoy the flavour of chai to its fullest, serve it with some packaged snacks or make pakodas to go along with it. Once you perfect your kadak chai recipe, you will not be able to stop yourself from bragging about making the best chai in the family.
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Authored By : Poorvi Chhajer
About Author : Poorvi is a psychology graduate with a knack for writing and belief in ayurveda.