The spices alone contain many medicinal properties, most of the being good for digestion, and the ritual of making it is also very meditative and calming.
The ritual of making chai is one I learned from my mother in law about 16 years ago. I was young and pregnant with our son Zubin and her chai was the greatest thing I have ever tasted!
However…..I was taught how to make a proper cup of chai, so I know I can pass that much on, as my mother in law Azra, is a phenomenal Indian cook and chai maker, not to mention artist and yogi.
Over the years I have received many bags of ground chai powder from Sohrab’s aunties made to suit their individual tastes, some super spicy, and some full of lots of cinnamon or ginger etc…. I have tried many store bought brands, mixing them to suit my taste, but since the powder does not get used up very fast I never had to actually grind my own, so I thought I had better make some just to assure myself that I could.
So without further ado, here is the Indian/Pakistani chai recipe as taught to me by my sweet mother-in-love Azra, including how to make your own homemade chai spice powder.
Chai Masala Powder Recipe
1/2 cup cinnamon pieces
1/8 cup cloves
1/4 cup black or white peppercorns-more if you like spicy!
1/4 cup green cardamon pods
1 tsp grated nutmeg
6-8 Anice flowers
3/4 cup dried ginger powder-more if you love ginger.
Dry roast all ingredients except the dried ginger powder and the nutmeg in a pan, preferably cast iron on low heat until you can smell the spices heating up and releasing their oils, about 5 mins. Remove them to a plate and allow them to cool down. Once they are cool to the touch grind into very fine powder in coffee or spice grinder. Now add the grated nutmeg and the dried ginger powder Mix well and store in airtight jar.
Masala Chai Tea Recipe
This recipe makes four cups.
Take a large pot and add 3 cups of water to it and one cup of milk. If you like a milkier chai try making it equal parts, any type, dairy, soy almond etc….
Think of how much milk you like to add to a typical cup of tea.
1/2 teaspoon chai spice powder that you just made-or more depending on how spicy you like it!
Plus some extra spices to make it even spicier, and infused. This is the traditional way
Add 2-3 crushed cardamon pods
1-2 small sticks of cinnamon
3-4 black pepper corns
1-3 slices of fresh ginger depending on how spicy you like it
2-3 tablespoons of sugar or Jaggery.
My mother-in-love Azra swears by adding this much sugar, if not more, and it is surprising how it mixes into the chai after it has boiled, making it almost caramelized.
Now wait for the pot to come to the boil and then turn down the burner, then bring it back up again, doing this for a total of 3 times.
Now you may add your tea bags 4 total. We like to use India tea or failing that Tetley BOLD, as it makes a good strong pot.
It is said that giving your guests of honour a cardamon pod or anice pod in their chai is a gesture of respect, and I believe it, as both of my in-laws/in-loves like to chew on the pods and enjoy them very much. Of course they are always guests of honour in our house!