Annika Eats

Masala Chai

Fragrant and flavorful masala chai (tea) at home brings comfort to the soul. In this recipe you will learn how to make my go to masala chai powder and turn that into the best masala chai. With 1 pot, a few ingredients and spices you are half way done. 

“Masala Chai” translates to Spiced Tea. As simple as that might sound there are many ways to make a good masala chai. But the method is not the only diversity it has, the ingredients used can vary as well. With India’s Independence Day it seemed only fitting to share this quintessential recipe with you all. The one I’ve shared here is a favorite of the Panikker’s, in saying this I’ll be honest and tell you we owe our masala chai tradition to a lovely lady Nasarene Dhanke who with all her passion and enthusiasm made me fall in love chai all over again, over a cup at her house a few years ago. Ever since then we’ve adapted our masala chai recipe and included a few steps from hers.

To make masala chai we first need to make the masala. Which basically is a combination of spices that have been dry roasted, left to cool before grinding into a fine powder. Now you can totally buy this is in Indian grocery stores or large supermarkets but I love making my own and I’ve tweaked the quantities of each spice to my liking. While we are still talking about spices I think its important I mention I love using fresh ginger and lemongrass in my masala chai but today I will show you this traditional version. If you want to use fresh ginger and lemongrass, make sure to add 1/2 inch ginger and 1/2 stick of lemon grass in the initial brew – I will talk more about this a little later. 

The masala chai powder includes cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, nutmeg and dried ginger (as I don’t always use fresh ginger to make my chai). I dry roast each spice individually and then let them cool down before I grind it into a powder. This powder can be stored in an air tight container, ideally glass, for months as long as no moisture enters, it will last. If you don’t have this powder on hand or access to a masala chai powder you can use whole spices in the brewing process. The quantities can be adjusted to your liking and taste. If you love cinnamon, add more or if you hate it add less, you get the idea. The recipe for the masala chai powder makes more than required but it doesn’t go to waste so store it well and you’ll have it on hand any time you need it. 

Quantities for each spice is mentioned below:

Spice

Quantity for Whole (for 2 cups chai)

Quantity for Making Powder (for 15 cups)

Cinnamon

3-4 inch piece

3 large sticks

Cloves

3 pieces

15 pieces

Cardamon

2 pieces (crushed)

12 pieces

Nutmeg

1/4 tsp (grated)

1 tsp (grated)

Drieg ginger

1/2 tsp

3 tsp

Like most chai recipes this one starts with water and tea powder. Now you could use black tea bags but you will need a few depending on the amount of chai you are making. I would recommend getting powder for a good chai. I like to brew this with a little masala chai powder initially and add more later. I bring this to a vigorous boil, if you are adding fresh ginger and lemon grass now is the time to go for it. Add some saffron strands at this stage and let this mixture boil for 2-3 mins on medium to high heat. Add a little milk and let it boil again. 

Once bubbling add the remaining masala chai powder and bring to a boil once it boiling add the remaining milk (depending on how strong or light you like your chai) and reduce the heat. Let it come to a simmer slowly. This is where the flavors are getting to know each other and by now the house should be smelling heavenly. Once its bubbling again, take off the heat and stir to calm it down. Bring it back to the heat and let it bubble again, take it off again. Repeat this process 4-5 times until the milk is proper chai color and the you can smell everything. Take it off the heat and while the chai is still hot you can add sugar, jaggery, or honey to sweeten it. I prefer having it without any sweetener. Serve it hot with Parle G Biscuits or any biscuits you like. 

A few substitutes:

Milk – I like using full fat milk but you can use low fat or simmer if you must. Also you can use a barista blend almond milk. It must be barista blend as if you boil regular almond milk it will split. I wouldn’t recommend coconut milk or soya even though the taste is not the same. Many recipes call for milk powder, I don’t use it. 

Tea powder – You can use tea bags or tea leaves as long as you are using black tea you are okay. You might need to add extra leaves or bags if the chai isn’t strong enough. 

Masala chai powder – You can use whole spices instead of the powder. 

Sugar – I don’t use sweetener in my chai but you can use white or brown sugar, jaggery and honey to sweeten it. Stevia or monk fruit sweetener also works well here. 

Honestly this should be served hot but I’ve been caught guilty drinking this iced cold as well. It can be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the cup as well. I would serve them with tea biscuits for dip dip action but toast maska (butter) and sugar also works well here. I haven’t managed to store this beyond 3 days in fridge so I can’t tell you otherwise. However the flavor does intensify with time. But I would recommend making it fresh whenever you want a cup. 

I think I have covered everything as much as I can, if you want to watch how I made it, click here. So lets make some chai for Independence Day! Happy Brewing Ninjas!

Masala Chai

Fragrant and flavorful masala chai (teat) at home brings comfort to the soul. In this recipe you will learn how to make my go to masala chai powder and turn that into the best masala chai. With 1 pot, a few ingredients and spice you are half way done.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Servings 2 people/cups

Equipment

  • Small sauce pot
  • Tea spoon
  • Strainer
  • Serving glasses

Ingredients
  

Masala Chai Powder -

  • 3 sticks Cinnamon large
  • 15 pcs Cloves
  • 12 pcs Cardamon crushed
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg grated
  • 3 tsp Dried ginger

Masala Chai -

  • 1 1/2 tsp Masala chai powder refer to the recipe above
  • 4-5 strands Saffron
  • 4 tsp Tea powder
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 cup Milk

Optional

  • Lemon grass
  • Fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp Sugar

Instructions
 

  • In a small sauce pot on medium heat add the water and tea powder.
  • Add 1/2 tsp masala chai powder and brew until it reaches a vigorous boil
  • If you are adding fresh ginger and lemon grass now is theta add it or else add your saffron strands and let this mixture boil for 2-3 mins on medium to high heat.
  • Add a little milk and let it boil again.
  • Once bubbling add the remaining masala chai powder and bring to a boil
  • After its boiled add the remaining milk (depending on how strong or light you like your chai) and reduce the heat.
  • Let it simmer for 2-3 mins. And then bring to a boil.
  • Once it is bubbling again, take off the heat and stir to calm it down. Bring it back to the heat and let it bubble again, take it off again. Repeat this process 4-5 times.
  • Take it off the heat and at this stage while the chai is still hot you can add your sweetener.
  • Strain into ups and serve with Biscuits. Enjoy it hot.

Notes

  • Don’t add the sweetener until the end and its always better to add less and add more if needed later.
  • You don’t have to add the lemon grass, ginger and saffron but they add a good flavor to the chai.
  • While the chai is simmering be patient and let it slowly come to a boil.
  • Be careful when the chai is boiling and you are taking off the heat and placing it on the heat as well, the chai boiled fast hence you need to be quick. You don’t NEED to do this step but I’ve done it forever and its always made the best chai.
  • Check the substitutes part above for more information on ingredients.
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3 thoughts on “Masala Chai”

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