Chai (pronounced as a single syllable and rhymes with ‘pie’) is the word for tea in many parts of the world. It is a centuries-old beverage which has played an important role in many cultures. Chai from India is a spiced milk tea that has become increasingly popular throughout the world. It is generally made up of:
• rich black tea
• heavy milk
• a combination of various spices
• a sweetener
With India on my mind after watching BBC’s The Ganges with Sue Perkins, with one of my friends having just returned from an incredible trip there and another friend heading there next month, I decided to delve into the back of my overspilling tea cupboard and sieve out the Chai I bought on my travels in India.
Recommended by Lonely Planet as the best spice shop in Rajasthan, we navigated the streets of Jodhpur in the search of MV Spices and it didn’t disappoint. Shelves and shelves packed full of every spice you could imagine, incredible aromas filling the tiny shop and still to this day ran by the family of the shop’s founder. His youngest daughter who must’ve been about 16 or 17 taught us about the many spices and their different uses, whilst she brewed some Chai for us to try in the tiny kitchen out the back whilst we perched on wooden stools in the middle of the tiny shop. We picked out bags and bags of spices, presents for Christmas to take back to the family, teas and curry powders, and to our pleasant surprise paid a fraction of the price we would’ve paid back in England. We left the shop happily content with our purchases, wondering how on earth we’d fit the bulging bags into our already tight backpacks (when there’s a will, there’s always a way)…
Almost one year later it lies untouched in my cupboard. Typical. I’d clearly just been waiting for the right moment to try it out. So I thought, what better time than this sunny and cosy autumnal Sunday morning?
Luckily the packs I’d bought came with some simple instructions on the label – as much as I’d tried to listen and vowed to remember what the young friendly girl had taught us, I was grateful for this. I’m not going to lie, it was slightly bitter at first, but after a bit of trial and error with the measurements and once I’d added a good bit of honey to sweeten, it didn’t disappoint and was the perfect warmer on a crisp Autumn morning like today. And although it brought back cherished memories of my time in this incredible country, nothing will beat the real thing, watching the delicious creamy spice mixture being brewed in the most authentic way, in steaming pans in the midst of bustling streets or in the vast expanse of the barren desert. That is the real taste of India.