Thursday, June 11, 2015

If chaai is your comfort drink, make it your way...

Although many people - including me - advocate having black, green, white or herbal teas without milk, the fact is that chaai, the indigenous brew of tea and milk, remains a comfort drink that many of us cannot do away with. So, if it really is a comfort drink for you, that is, if it makes you feel warm and good deep inside, then take some time out to make it the way you want, so you feel doubly good when you sit and sip a cuppa.

So, what can you add to your tea to make it extra special? Well, actually anything from milk to ginger and cardamom, or all of it for that matter. Each of these lends a special aroma and flavor to your tea. However, you need to know when to add each.

Source: Flickr; cormac70

The right ingredient at the right time

While some add all the ingredients together and boil, I feel that there is a time and place for each ingredient, in order to bring out its best flavor. Here are my suggestions:

1. If you're making ginger milk tea, first boil grated ginger in water for sometime to allow the acids to evaporate. Then, add milk and tea. When this boils, switch off the stove, filter, add sugar to taste and enjoy fresh.

2. To make mint tea, prepare milk tea as usual. As soon as you switch it off, add some sprigs of mint, roughly crushed with your hands, close the vessel with a lid for a minute or two. Then, filter and serve.

3. For cardamom tea, you can add the cardamom along with the tea leaves itself. In fact, whenever you use cardamom, you can put the peels into your tea container rather than throw them away. This will impart a nice aroma to the tea.

4. Lemongrass can be boiled for sometime with water and tea leaves, before adding the milk. This will help the essence to seep into the tea. But, don't overcook it either. Once the water comes to a boil, add lemongrass and tea leaves. Boil for a minute, then add milk, bring to a boil again, filter and serve.

Make your own combos...

You can add one or more of these ingredients to your tea. Some all-time favourite combos are ginger-cardamom, ginger-mint, lemongrass-cardamom-ginger, and of course, all of them together.

In such cases, add some of the ingredients when boiling the water, add others in the end, as required.

Or make your own chaai masala

While chaai masala is readily available in stores, you could make your own special blend using your favourite spices, in the proportions you like. As I said, earlier, if chaai is your comfort drink, you are the best judge of how to make your cuppa. But, when you feel adventurous try this chaai masala, which tastes somewhat like a mix of sukku-malli kaapi (a popular herbal tea of south India) and the north Indian chaai.

1. Take some or any of the following ingredients in the proportions you prefer - ajwain, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, pepper, clove, cardamom and cinnamon.

2. Dry roast them for half a minute in a hot kadhai, and powder them in the mixer-grinder. You can store this in an airtight container for close to a month. However, I would suggest making some every week, so that the aroma is fresh.

3. Boil water. Add grated ginger, lemongrass and this special tea masala. Boil for a few minutes.

4. Add tea granules/ leaves and milk.

5. Remove from the stove when it starts boiling. Add some sprigs of mint. Cover the kettle and let it infuse for a minute.

6. Filter, sweeten with sugar or palm sugar if required, and serve fresh.

My suggestion is to make this tea when you are free and savor it immediately. Can't we spare a few minutes to enjoy a heartwarming drink? Avoid reheating tea because it is bad for health - and is also a huge disappointment for your taste buds!