Recipe: Authentic Chai

published Apr 2, 2008
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(Image credit: Sabra Krock)

In Devesh and Tara’s Spice Pantry kitchen tour, Devesh shared two recipes: one for an Indian breakfast called Poha, or flattened rice, and another for authentic Chai – that strongly spiced, milky tea we love.

The Chai was so different from what I’ve come to know as the slightly cloying, heavily spiced Chai from local teashops that I couldn’t believe it was the same thing. It was truly wonderful. Recipe and a guide to the ingredients below…

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Clockwise from top left (some of the many ingredients that be used to make chai): ginger, loose, black tea, Vietnamese cinnamon, fennel seed, tea masala, green cardamom.

(All measurements are per cup – multiply for the number of cups or medium-sized mugs you are making. There are two approaches: focus on one key spice, like cardamom, or use a smaller quantity of several ingredients)

3/4 cup water plus 1/4 cup milk (if you are using skim or 1 percent, use half milk and half water)
Sugar to taste
Roughly ~2 teaspoons per cup loose black tea leaves (Ideally Assam or Ceylon tea – English Breakfast will do)

Some or all of the following (measurements are per cup or per medium-sized mug):

2 green cardamom pods
2-3 whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1-2 pieces cinnamon (“real cinnamon” not Cassia. May be labeled “Vietnamese cinnamon”)
Fresh ginger (2-3 thin slices for extra zing)


Loose tea masala (a mixture of spices) (Devesh has both the MDH and Everest brands. Kalustyans has a loose Tea masala sold by weight);
and ginger (see above) if desired

Heat water and milk. Before it comes to a boil, add fresh ginger (with skin, sliced into thin rounds), if using and any or several of the following: a few pods of green cardamom, Cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, peppercorns and/or cinnamon. Devesh used 1/8 teaspoon of tea masala per cup and fresh ginger, skipping the other spices. When the milk / water mixture boils, add loose black tea. Turn off the heat and let steep for 2 minutes. Pour into a cup through a sieve to strain out tea leaves and spices. Add sugar / sweetener to taste.

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(All images: Sabra Krock of Cookbook Catchall)