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Masala Chai

Masala Chai

An easy recipe for India’s favorite tea drink.

At Pondicheri, a modern Indian restaurant in Houston, masala chai is the most requested beverage among the restaurant’s regulars. Fortunately, for her new book, Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices (available August 30), award-winning chef Anita Jaisinghani shares her recipe for the aromatic drink.

For a cozy winter version of the recipe, Jaisinghani recommends substituting rosemary sprigs for the mint to “help bring heat into our bodies.”

Ingredients

Yield:4
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger purée
  • 8 to 10 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • A few sprigs mint or basil
  • 2 Tbsp. Assam tea leaves, or 4 black tea bags
  • honey for sweetening
  • Tools:saucepan, strainer

Preparation

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, ginger puree, cardamom (seeds and pods), and black peppercorns and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to the lowest setting, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes to infuse the water with the spices. Raise the heat to high and add the milk and mint sprigs. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, add the tea leaves, making sure it doesn’t boil over. Immediately lower the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 seconds, then turn the heat off, cover, and let the teasteep for 3 to 4 minutes. Strain and enjoy with a generous dollop of honey stirred in.

Drunken Chai OptionAdd 2 ounces rum and 2 tablespoons honey (or more to taste) to the chai and serve warm or chilled with ice.

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