Ginger-Spiced Masala Chai
By Preena and Arvinda Chauhan
In India, masala chai is a fragrant spiced tea that’s enjoyed throughout the day—morning, noon, or night! The very act of drinking a cup of masala chai is part of the social fabric of society, and people take time out of the day for a steaming cup paired with a savory snack or biscuit. The tradition of making and drinking a cup of masala chai is a ritualistic one. Talk to any chai connoisseur and a whole evening can pass debating water-to-milk ratios, the type of black loose tea to use, bold spices or subtle, and the question of whether to sweeten or not to sweeten.
When we were kids, my brother, Paresh, and I were welcomed home on the coldest days with “tea and toast”—steaming cups of masala chai with hot buttered toast for dipping into the tea. And as for my mother, she’s made masala chai every single day since forever, and she’s the biggest tea connoisseur we know. Our masala chai is bold in spice, so try different quantities of chai masala (such as ¼, ½, or ¾ teaspoon) to get the spice strength of your liking. What makes masala chai so fascinating is that it’s personal to the drinker and you can make it and serve it exactly the way you like!
PREPTIME: 1 MINUTE
COOK TIME: 10 MINUTES
YIELD: 2 CUPS
- 1 ¼ cups cold filtered water
- 1 tablespoon black loose-leaf tea (see Note)
- 1 teaspoon Perfumy Chai Masala
- ¾ cup 2% or whole milk
- 1 tablespoon raw cane sugar, or to taste (optional)
- ½ teaspoon shredded ginger root
In a medium pot, bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the tea and chai masala and boil for a couple of minutes to infuse the spices into the tea.
Add the milk, sugar, and ginger. Bring the tea back up to a boil and simmer until the tea is the color of caramel. Strain into a teapot or teacups and serve hot with an Indian brunch, a savory snack, a biscuit, or dessert—or as dessert!
NOTE: For a delicious cup of masala chai, choose a full-bodied, strong black loose-leaf tea originating from India. Assam, Darjeeling, and orange pekoe are good choices, or you can use a blend of different black teas. Try different strengths and varieties to find the one that resonates with your palate. If caffeine is bothersome in the evening, swap out the black tea for an African rooibos red tea or non-caffeinated black tea. The results will be just as delicious.
PREENA and ARVINDA CHAUHAN are the proprietors of a Canadian-based company, Arvinda’s Spices & Chai, that sells freshly-roasted, ground, and small-batch Indian and international spice blends. They create some of the world’s premier spice blends, retailed internationally at stores like Harrods in London, and Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma and Sobeys in North America. Arvinda’s also offers cooking classes, and they regularly appear as food experts on TV shows like Cityline. Their book, New Indian Basics: 100 Traditional and Modern Recipes from Arviinda’s Family Kitchen, comes out on November 1.
Excerpted from New Indian Basics: 100 Traditional and Modern Recipes from Arvinda’s Family Kitchen by Preena Chauhan and Arvinda Chauhan. Copyright © 2022 Preena Chauhan. Cover and book design by Andrew Roberts. Photography by Reena Newman, with photos on pages iii, 10, 18, 28, 129, 209, 255, 272 by Sandy Nicholson. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.