Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garam Chai

As kids we were told that drinking tea or coffee is an adult thing and were forbidden from tasting them. It was a big glass of milk along with breakfast for us. Milk did not come in polythene packets. With a can and a lactometer in hand my father would set off  to get milk from the local doodhwala who had his herd of cows and buffaloes .
The coffee prepared was a mix of this fresh milk and decoction brewed by my mother in a small coffee filter. Tea was prepared in evening times. My parents sat in the 'easy' chairs in our lawn as they sipped tea and chatted, catching up on the day's happenings.
Having grown up drinking milk, I never knew what tea or coffee tasted like. This continued even after marriage. But then I had a was ok at home. But when we went visiting our friends, we were asked the inevitable, 'coffee or tea?' I politely turned down the offer but that led to the next question 'Maltova? Boost? Horlicks? Yuck! I liked my milk plain sans sugar. I had to give in and opted for their offer of tea/coffee.
Back at home, morning times were always hectic as we used to have our respective coffee/milk and rush off to our places of work but come evening, I started having tea to give company to my husband.That's how my tea-drinking experience began.
Gradually, I started making my own brand of tea which my aunt and I have proudly named 'kaamwaali chai'. Any kaamwaali who hears this will sue me, I am sure, as none of them will have this kind of chai any more. In earlier days though, the kaamwaalis were given chai prepared from the residual tea leaves prepared for the household.
My chai comes very close to that.The recipe for my Paani wala chai is to boil one cup of water until you see a vociferous dance of bubbles in the vessel, put in 1 1/2 teaspoons of tea leaves. Boil for 10-15 seconds. Switch off the stove. Put 2 tablespoons of milk and half tsp of sugar. The color should be a distinct brownish red. Take a deep breathe of the aroma that arises from the swirls of the steaming brew and tell me you don't feel alive! (Did you know that the word 'cha' in Hebrew means 'coming alive'?)
Many ask me why not coffee? Coffee is not like tea. Tea conjures a rustic image and feel. Coffee, on the other hand, is something that I might have as an-after dinner is an urbane experience. When you think coffee, you think rich, you think cream...better whipped cream, you think of espresso, cappuccino, mocha, latte and all those cute hearts, hopscotch and other figures cutely drawn across. Coffee is a leisurely and luxurious experience. Whereas chai is that delightful brown hot fluid that pumps life into your lethargic body. Of course, some coffee outlets have distorted the nice rustic chai with offers of iced tea, green tea and...even latte! But then why have chai there?
To have real chai, have this:

                                            (Image: Courtesy:Wiki)

 Moreover, a Hyderabadi = (Irani) CHAI and not coffee!


Deepali said...

My mom always use to tell me that our skin will get dark if we drink tea and we'll get more fair if we drink milk. I always hated milk but now I can't drink tea because I feel like puking whenever I drink it. I suppose my mom's trick worked on me. :-)

Beautiful World said...

Hi Deepali...a mom's tactics to get you to drink milk :)