I don’t know about you but my day doesn’t really get going until I’ve had my morning masala chai. English breakfast tea doesn’t come close.
So what is it about Indian chai? It’s served in a cup or glass a bit smaller than an English tea cup or mug. Generally, chai is milky*, sweet and flavoured with sweet aromatic spices. But there is no standard blend of spices; Indians all have their own individual preferences. I’m no different, I like the flavour of cardamom and lashings of ginger in my brew. I also add fresh tulsi (holy basil) if I have it.
As a consequence, this recipe is very much customised to my own personal taste. Give it a try. And I won’t be offended if you tweak the masala!
For the milk I prefer ‘full-fat’ oat milk. I know that the pros and cons of different plant-based drinks is a hot topic right now. But from the evidence I’ve read, it’s likely to be a lot better for the planet than cow’s milk and yet it’s creamy and rich. So going vegan doesn’t compromise the flavour of my chai. In fact, I prefer it dairy-free now.
I must give credit to my trainee chaiwala (aka husband) who introduced his brewing and frothing technique to my humble chai thus making it uber cool and likeable by the new generation. He loves showing off his beverage-making prowess whenever we have desi guests at home! We kind of procrastinated about writing down the recipe as it really is something we are very proud of (and possessive about). But here we go. The secret is out. Who knows – you might find me selling this chai in our own cafe in England.
* P. S. I mentioned that chai should be milky, but for me, that doesn’t mean it has to be dairy. I’ve settled on ‘full-fat’ oat milk for my morning cuppa because I love its creamy taste. The fact that it’s likely to be a lot better for the planet, as well as my health, is a bonus.
For a comparison of different kinds of vegan milk read this. TL;DR the worst choice by far is dairy milk.
P.P.S. It’s well worth giving these instructions to your other half. With a short tutorial and this recipe he or she could become a fully qualified chaiwala or chaiwali should you ever fancy breakfast in bed!
Frothy Vegan ChaiCourse: Breakfast, SnacksCuisine: Modern IndianDifficulty: Easy
10g ginger peeled and grated
7 green cardamom pods
1 good quality organic tea bag e.g. Assam
2 tsp sugar
150g boiling water
130g hot oat milk (5% fat)
- Crush the cardamom pods with the flat side of a knife. Grate the ginger and add to a small saucepan with the water, sugar, and tea bag.
- Simmer for 5-10 minutes over a medium flame until the brew has reduced by about two-thirds. It should have the consistency of runny syrup.
- Meanwhile, shake a carton of oat milk to create a froth. Pour it into a cup and warm it in the microwave for about 50 seconds at 900w.
- Remove the tea bag from the saucepan and tip the rest of the tea into the cup of oat milk using a tea strainer to catch the ginger and cardamom. Squeeze as much goodness as you can, out of the sieve with the back of a teaspoon.
- As I’ve mentioned this recipe reflects my own personal preferences. For example, I love ginger in my chai but you may want to reduce the quantity. You could also try adding other spices such as cinnamon, and nutmeg et al. Experiment and find your own brew!
- I use oat milk for my chai. If you want to substitute it with dairy milk or try some other plant-based ‘milk’ the recipe will work just as well.
- One nice thing about oat milk is that you can create a froth just by shaking the carton before pouring it. So I use this lazy method before heating the milk in the cup. You will probably need a dedicated milk frother to achieve the same effect with dairy milk. For me, it makes for a more luxurious drink but froth is not traditional and entirely optional.
- I only have one cup of chai a day so I am happy to make it rich and sweet. If you are calorie counting you’ll probably find that reducing the fat content of the milk will have a bigger impact than reducing the sugar.
- I don’t usually measure the water or ginger but I always use digital scales to weigh the milk. This way I get consistent proportions and I know how many calories I’m getting in my morning brew.
- Lastly, did I mention it’s worth giving these instructions to your better half?