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Imagine, you are on the train riding south from Delhi headed toward the city of Agra, home of the famous Taj Mahal.  The warm air blows through the open bar windows as you look out over the Indian countryside.  You hear a gruff voice:  "Garam Chai, Garam Chai" and the strong smell of cardamom hits your nose.  You hand over a few rupees to the Chai Wallah, and he gives you a terra cotta cup of the best tea you've ever tasted.  This is the recipe for that tea.


Step 1: Tools and Materials

First, you must gather the proper supplies.  The trickiest part of this recipe is getting the proper tea leaves.  This may involve a trip to your local Indian market.  The key is to ask for "CTC leaf".  CTC stands for "Cut, Torn, Crushed" and is a concentrated, processed tea leaf.  You could try and make this from loose leaf Darjeeling or something fancy, but Masala Chai isn't really that kind of thing.  It comes in a bag and looks like coffee grounds.

The MOST important thing isn't what is on this list, but what is NOT on this list.  Resist the urge to through all the spices in your spice cabinet into this tea (i.e., no nutmeg, cinnamon, lemongrass, cloves, allspice, etc.)  Of course after you've had the authentic chai experience, go ahead... but I strongly suggest you make it simply at least once to see how good it is.
  1. 2 cups of milk
  2. 2 cups of water
  3. 3 tablespoons of sugar
  4. 6-7 cardamom pods (I suggest buying these in bulk at your local health food store)
  5. 4 teaspoons of CTC leaf indian tea
  6. something to strain the tea with

Step 2: The Boil

In a large saucepan, put 2 cups water, 2 cups milk, 3 Tbsp of sugar over low to medium heat.

Cut the tips off of the cardamom pods and open them up.  Put the inside of the pods into the pot and discard the hard outer casing on the pods.  Flavorful pods are very dark... if you have a bunch which are dried out and light brown, you may have to add more pods to really taste the cardamom.

Stir this mixture to dissolve the sugar, and bring it to a boil.  Be careful because it really likes to boil over.  It's ok if it does a little bit, I'm convinced it makes the tea more authentic. :)

Step 3: The Tea

Once the sugar/cardamom/water/milk mixture is boiling, then it is time to add the 4 teaspoons of CTC leaf tea.

After adding the tea, you boil it for several minutes until it gets that "chai color" as shown below.

Step 4: Strain and Serve

Now that the chai is done, it's time to strain out the leaves and cardamom pods.

I use a little tea strainer, but you could also use cheesecloth.

Close your eyes, and enjoy a taste of India!
<p>I used to work for a family from India. I loved drinking tea with them. I watched their place for a couple of weeks when the family went to India for their daughters wedding. The wife had all the ingredients ready for me to make my own tea. I did use milk, water, and her &quot;special&quot; spices as the husband called it. The only thing missing here that I know was in her mix of spices is ginger. It is great tea! </p>
I just had a go at this recipe. Delicious. Thank you. And so much cheaper than paying $5 at a stall per cup or $15 for a canister of powder.
Good to see you have mastered the Masala Chai.. However, to make the Chai more tastier, do not add sugar while the milk and water is boiling. Add sugar after straining out tea leaves and cardamom pods. You can find lot of difference in taste
Thanks for the tip!
Chai is one of my favorite things in the world so I can't wait to try this recipe (*&gt;.&lt;) Since it's getting to be summer I might try it iced, maybe with some chocolate! The second time of course like you said...
Enjoy! I'd love to hear how you like it!
This, I will have to try. After a recent bad experience from a recipe calling for two bay leaves in my Chai, I was about to give up. Thanks for sharing!

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