Tea (Chai)

For more than two centuries the three famous teas of India – Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiris – have stirred the hearts, stimulated the minds, and soothed the palates of mankind.  Even in countries that grow their own teas today, India tea remains the favorite.

India and Sri Lanka (Ceylon) are the largest producers of fine teas in the world.  These teas are known for their exquisite flavor and distinctive aroma.  Black Assam tea is grown at the foothills of the Himalayas and is strong, pungent, and full-bodied.  The famous Lipton teas come from India and Sri Lanka.  The teas of Nilgiris (Blue Hills in South India) are of a bright, brisk quality with distinct flavors.

Indian Spiced Tea (Masalewali Chai)

Serves 6

The people of the cooler regions of India have traditionally added spices to their tea, not just for flavoring but also to induce heat in the body.  Spiced teas are particularly welcome after a satisfying Indian meal.  This recipe is richly accented with cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon.

7 cups cold water
1 cup milk
1 cinnamon stick
6 green cardamom pods
6 cloves
1¼-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiris, or Ceylon Tea

In a pot, bring the water and milk to a boil over medium heat.  Stir in the spices and brown sugar.  Boil for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.  Cover the pot and let the spices steep for 10 minutes.  Add the tea leaves and bring the water to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Strain the tea and serve immediately.

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

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