Ah, how I miss the road side stalls in India and their piping hot Cutting Chai. Cutting is the transliteration of the Hindi word for half – Cutting Chai is served in half glasses (or smaller, often) as it has a strong flavour, and half a cup of this strong sweet liquid is enough to get you moving for the day! You have to buy it from the road side stalls – restaurants and hotels do not get the same taste.
The flavours are predominantly ginger and cardamon, simmered for some minutes with sugar so that the maximum flavour is extracted. The black tea, too, breaks every Western tea-brewing rule and is simmered for 5 or 6 minutes for the flavour extractions. Then milk is added to create this addictive drink.
Cutting Chai | Ginger and Cardamon Chai
Prep & Cook Time: 15 – 20 mins
Serves: 2 – 4 depending on how much you each want
2 cups water
3 teabags or 2 – 3 tspns black tea
2 Tbspn jaggery or brown sugar, or more if you are a sweet tooth
2.5 cm ginger, finely grated (grating extracts more flavour than chopping)
3 – 4 cardamom pods, crushed well and ground a little
0.5 – 0.75 cup milk
Heat the water in a small saucepan. Place on high heat and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add the finely grated ginger, stir and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cardamom powder and stir. Simmer for 2 more minutes, stirring once or twice.
Add the tea bags or tea leaves, stir, and simmer for 6 minutes for that kadak taste, stirring periodically.
Add milk, about 1/2 a cup, to bring to your desired milkiness. Stir and bring back to a simmer, simmer for a few moments and then strain and pour into glasses or cups.
Drink piping hot. Serve with biscuits or Indian snacks. It’s great with samosas, pakoras, indian sweets, biscuits, chips or cake. I even have it with a salad for a mid morning break.
You can add 1 clove and 2.5 cm stick cinnamon to the chai as well.
Rather than adding ingredients individually, you can add them all together and simmer for 6 or so minutes.