Pop into any cafe and you will see a chai tea latte on the menu. Maybe you drink your chai at a tea lounge, chai bar, or perhaps with some added boba. If you live in the Bay Area, chai is something you are likely familiar with, and something you may have even tried at one of these popular spots.
For Bay Area resident Anjali Kamat, chai isn’t just some trendy beverage at a local cafe, but instead a reminder of the chai culture from her experiences in India. Throughout India, and much of southeast Asia, chai is a cultural staple. Her memories included sampling tea from a chai wallah at the train station, or the saree shop owner ordering her chai while she makes her selection, or being offered a steaming hot cup of masala chai and gulab jamun at a dinner party.
All of these memories inspired her to make her signature masala chai blend. When asked how she got into making chai, she replied,
“I did not participate in the ritual of sipping chai until I was in college. It was during this time of living on my own and staking my own identity as an adult, a first-generation desi growing into adulthood, that I began to claim this practice.
I would make chai in a large pot in the kitchen I shared with my three other roommates. Our friends would gather around the table at all hours of the night, sipping chai in large mugs over laughter, deep conversations, and gossip. This time period marked the beginning of my love for chai as I saw its power to connect people in conversation and build community.
“Just like the flavors of cardamom, ginger and tea steeping, sitting with a cup of chai allows for a similar brewing of ideas and friendship.”
Her chai became so popular that she was requested to make it for several special occasions and now caters with her company, Timepass Chai. She shares one of her favorite chai recipes below. Enjoy! How do you take your chai?
If all of this has made you interested in Indian cuisine see my Butter Chicken recipe here.
Chai Recipe: (Makes 4 large mugs)
15-20 Green Cardamom Pods
1 inch fresh ginger
5 teaspoons black loose tea
Sugar (to taste)
3 cups water
2 cups milk
*Note all ingredient quantities are to taste, depending on how strong or weak you like your chai. Also, feel free to add or delete any add-ins such as cinnamon sticks, lemongrass, or cloves.
- Pulverize cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle. Important!!
- In a pot, add water, tea leaves, cardamom, and grated peeled ginger. Bring to boil for a few minutes.
- Add milk and sugar if using, and bring to boil. Watch it, the pot can overflow!
- Strain chai into individual cups. Enjoy immediately, especially with biscuits.
When I moved to California I thought that I was well adapted to living far from home, that is until I got here. I missed my family most, followed by food.