This is luxury chai (tea in English). Packed with chocolate and spice, I can assure you they don’t drink it like this Chandhni Chowk (Delhi)! But it’s a luxury take on the classic Indian masala chai recipe.
I have been playing around with my masala chai recipe for years and this is the best. We normally drink it without the chocolate, this is just something for a very special treat. The recipe works very well by itself.
Masala chai is more a potion, an elixir, than a mere hot beverage. Add fresh chocolate shavings to the mix and you have something rather special indeed. I have heard rumours about adventurous folk even adding a glug of brandy or whisky to it, I can imagine that to be quite a thing!
Masala chai basically means mixed spice tea and is normally brewed in the milk, rather than adding milk later. It normally contains black tea, but we also love it with rooibos (for those not sipping caffeine). Tea from Assam is best due to its dark orange colour and robust flavour. Darjeeling tea is best reserved for drinking black or with a touch of milk, after all it is the champagne of teas don’t you know (normally meaning more expensive and well marketed!)
Indians now drink the most amount of tea in the word, chai (tea) is part of Indian everyday life and chai wallah’s (like Starbucks but more low-key and infinitely better) dot every street side around the country. Thats over 1 billion people hooked on the spicy sweet goodness of chai and its really all down to the Brits. Tea has always been grown up near Darjeeling and Assam in the wet and wonderful northeast of India, but it was the Brits who began to plant it on an industrial scale and ship it back. What a meddling lot we were!
Sweetening chai is a must and we like to use jaggery if we can get it or dark sugar.
Star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg……this is truly a magic potion and it tastes pretty darn magic too. I love this combination of spices and if you can get them all fresh and whole, the chai will be much better for it. Powders are decent, but a proper chai should be simmering for hours and all of those massive flavours infused.
We have used soya milk here because we like the taste, but any of your favourite milks will be fine.
Traditionally, chai should be taken from small tea cups or even glasses, definitely not big mugs. Chai is to be slurped and enjoyed, made a fuss of and very much savoured. The smaller the tea cup the better (almost espresso size), this also has the advantage of prolonging chai time.
Bring on the potion!
The Bits – Makes one large sauce pan full, enough for 8 small cups
Beach House Chai contains:
1 stick of cinnamon
4 star anise
6 green cardamom pods (crushed)
2 heaped teas grated ginger
1 teas all spice
3/4 litre of soya/ almond milk, 1/3 litre water
3 good black tea bags (assam preferable, loose leaf tea is alot better and more traditional)
2 heaped tbs jaggery/ dark brown sugar or sweetener of choice (chai should be served nice and sweet)
1 big handful dark chocolate (grated)
Many other spices can be added including fennel seeds, cumin seeds (very warming), peppercorns, saffron, liquorice or even rose….the list goes on and each area of India has a particular favourite.
Get the water boiling in a large saucepan, add all the spices and turn down to a rolling simmer, leave for at least 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse (longer is better).
Now add milk, bring to a boil and then add your tea leaves/ tea bags. Stir in and help the tea infuse. Bring back to the boil. Leave until you are happy with your chai shade, deeper is better. Stir in your sweetener and chocolate.
Taste and adjust sweetness.
Strain into little cups with plenty of slurps and great conversation. A biscuit would be nice!
We Love It!
This chocolate masala chai adds a whole new level to the chai experience, its a dessert in a cup and with that amazing mix of spices is the perfect antidote to a grey March day. Indulge!
Black tea is the oxidised leaf of the tea bush, if it wasn’t oxidised it would be green tea (which makes sense!) Black tea has many health benefits and considerably less caffeine than coffee. It has a high level of anti-oxidants, it boosts the immune system, helps the heart and even lowers the level of stress hormones. What a grand cuppa!
Making chai in your home, you need some real India rajas to get the spices flowing. Here is the late and and sorely missed Ravi Shankar playing with his daughter Anoushka: