"You take Chai?" - Asked my sweet, warm and spicy India
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Only this sentence alone, composed of British grammar and an Ayurvedic twist on the 'proper' imperial drink, can tell the story of Chai.
Legend has it that the English East India Company put great efforts into marketing tea to Indian households. British attempts to Westernise India resulted in Chai Masala. Another bend of cultures that always ends up much colorful in India. Masala is a general Hindu term for a spice mix. The basic ingredients for Chai brewing are usually a slice of a fresh ginger root, a few whole green cadamom pods, assam tea leafs, sugar and freshly milked creamy milk. Indians often use a cow and buffalo milk blend.
The art of Chai making requires knowledge and devotion alone. No special equipment nor exotic ingredients.
During my 1 year travel across India I had Chai every morning, evening and some time during the day too. One of the two most aromatic and memorable Chai cups I had was made by a Chai wala (maker) that had not even a table or chair. He sat on the ground and all he had was a stone to crush the Ginger and Cardamom, a flame, a pot and a spoon.
Chai is not only tasty but also healthy. Ginger is classified as a stimulant. It induces temporary improvements in mental and physical functions. It is also a carminative which means it prevents formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract and facilitates the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence.
Cardamom, is also a member of the ginger family. It is used to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, congestion of the lungs, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders. It also is used to break up kidney stones and gall stones.
Personally I had substituted my morning coffee for a strong chai cup. Softer on my morning empty stomach yet gives me the push to jump start the my day.
If you are around Arizona, come taste a freshly grinned and brewed traditional cup of Chai:
East West Exchange, Chandler, AZ. on Saturday, February 27th.
Details on My India: Where every village is home - Experience !
July 2013 update:
Currently the best Chai method I honed:
Crush a piece of fresh & peeled Ginger root.
Drop it in a pot with 2-3 cups of water and bring to boil.
Add loose tea leafs, preferably Assam variety, let sit for 5 minutes
Add milk and crushed seeds from a pod of Cardamon and bring to slow boil again.
Add raw/brown sugar or honey, mix and serve.
In the story "You take Chai?" - Asked my sweet, warm and spicy India.
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