Indian Essentials: How to make Chai and Tarak Chai

The word chai originated from the Hindustani word chai which was derived from the Chinese word for tea, known as cha. Chai just means tea in India. Outside of India it is often known as masala chai to indicate the inclusion of spices.

The making of Chai uses techniques that go against all of the rules of British-influenced methods of brewing tea. It is brewed in milk rather than seeped in water. The tea that goes into making chai is simmered for some time, rather than seeped for under a minute or two. It is sweetened as a matter of course. And of course, chai includes spices (although it can be made without spices). Chai tastes nothing like regular tea with milk.

There is a distinct method or ritual for making chai, and one that I will share with you today. Tarak chai (also spelt kadak, karak and tadak) is a strong tea, and describes the taste that you get when tea is simmered rather than seeped, and simmered for a number of minutes.

Chai can be infused in water (milk is added later), directly into simmering milk, or in a combination of milk and water. Each household makes chai slightly differently.

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Collection: Chai Recipes with Love

Chai is the comforting drink that we all need every day. It is made from tea, usually an Assam tea, spices, milk and sugar. The spices are simmered in water and milk with the tea for some minutes to infuse the flavour, and it is sweetened before serving. The tea is simmered with the spices – a different way of brewing it when we consider the dunk-in-dunk-out method of the British and others.

Learn how to make Chai properly here.

Enjoy these 20 or so different Chai recipes.

Similar articles include 30 Soups for Mid Autumn, A Collection of Kitchdi Recipes, and Delicious Recipes with Green Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Chai Recipes, and all of our Collections. Or explore our Mid Autumn recipes.

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Lemongrass Chai

Lemongrass grows freely in my garden, as it does in India, and it is used to add fragrance and that beautiful lemon flavour to salads, rice and S.E. Asian dishes. But in India its use in cooking is limited despite its availability. It features mainly in drinks and soups, such as this fragrant tomato soup.

Here it is used in a simple but elegant chai – a lemon grass bulb and an Indian tea bag or loose leaf tea. Jaggery or rock sugar is used to sweeten the tea, and it can be taken with or without milk. It is a wonderfully refreshing tea on a warm Summer afternoon or evening. I encourage you to try it.

You might like to read How to Make Chai, and our 20 Chai Recipes.

Similar recipes include Fiona’s Beautiful ChaiTim’s Chai, and Tulsi and Mint Chai.

Browse all of our Chai recipes and all of our Indian drinks. All of our Indian recipes are here, and the Indian Essentials Series is here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Liquorice and Spice Chai | Mulethi ka Karha | Hot or Chilled

Chai made with a range of spices and liquorice root is incredibly good. It is also very detoxifying, so it is a healthy AND flavoursome tonic for an afternoon relaxing hot drink.  Or morning. Or evening.

This recipe is very much like our first chai – Yogi Chai – all those years ago. Spices are roasted  to enhance their flavours, and then simmered. Tea can be added or not – your choice. And it can be sweetened or not. Milk can be added or not. So there is a range of choices and variation.

While it is usually consumed piping hot, it is also wonderful chilled and sipped on hot days and in those heatwaves so common in the area where I reside.

Similar recipes include Lemongrass Chai, Sonth Panak, Yogi Chai, Fiona’s Beautiful Chai, Spring Chai, and Heavenly Gentle Chai.

Browse all of our Chai recipes and all of our Indian drinks. All of our Indian recipes are here, and the Indian Essentials Series is here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Saunf ki Chai | Fennel or Aniseed Tea

Fennel is in kitchens all over India not only because it is a delicious spice but also because of its health benefits. Anise too, similar in flavour but with different health impacts. They say that including one or the other in your diet each day will make significant improvement in your health.

Then why not make tea from it? Using either fennel or aniseed, together with some good Indian black tea, we can brew a delicious elixir that is perfect either hot or iced.

Similar recipes include Liquorice and Spice Chai, CCF Tea, Golden Saffron Spiced Tea, and Pitta Tea for Rainy Weather.

Browse all of our Chais, and all of our Indian Drinks. Our Indian recipes are here, and the Indian Essentials Series here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Chai Wallah’s Chai

This recipe is another in our large Chai recipe collection, and it is claimed that the recipe is from a Chai Wallah – a road side person serving small cups of chai to thirsty passers-by. They are the best people, and there is nothing like your daily chai. I so miss those piping hot cuppa’s.

Who does not like chai? I have a deep love for this comforting and nourishing drink. A jar of my chai mix-of-the-moment sits permanently on my kitchen bench.

You might like to read How to Make Chai, and our 20 Chai Recipes.

Similar recipes include Sonth Panak, Spring Chai, Garam Chai, and Peppery Chai.

Browse all of our Chai recipes, and all of our Indian dishes. Our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Journey of the Heart Chai

Chai as an art that must be discovered. Ingredients are the map but the combination is your own journey. This is the secret intention of the heart.

Today, we explore a wealth of different items that can be added to a basic chai recipe to vary the flavour combinations to your heart’s content.

There are more variations for Chai here: Indian Chai Variations.

Similar recipes include Chai Wallah’s Chai, Tim’s Chai, Garam Chai, and Heavenly Gentle Chai.

You can browse all of our Chai recipes, all of our Indian dishes, and our Indian Essentials series. Or settle back and enjoy our Early Spring collection of recipes.

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Masala Chai with Tulsi, Ginger and Cardamom

The varieties of Chai are seemingly endless, and here is another one, incorporating the beautiful Tulsi herb. Tulsi is available as a plant from some nurseries and Indian shops, or dried leaves can be bought as tea bags in health and organic shops. If you can’t find Tulsi, substitute basil.

Are you after similar recipes? Try Tulasyadi Phanta, Lemongrass Chai, Journey of the Heart Chai, Heavenly Chai, Ashram Chai, and Yogi Chai. Have a look at other Masala Chai recipes.

Or browse all of our Chai recipes, and all of Teas and Coffees Recipes. You can explore our Indian recipes. Or simply work through our Late Summer dishes.

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Tulsi ka Sherbet | Iced Tulsi Tea

What a powerhouse herb Tulsi is, everyone should have a plant or at least dried leaves in their pantry. We have a few recipes featuring it, and today, another one. An iced tea for the hottest of weathers. We have 40C days in Summer, sometimes hotter, so our minds will be on cooling drinks for afternoons under the grapevines.

Similar recipes include Nimbu Sherbet, Fennel Tea, Tulsi, Mint and Lemon Verbena Tea, Tulsi and Mint Chai with Cinnamon, and Ginger and Tulsi Tea.

Browse all of our Tulsi recipes, and all of our Indian Coolers. All of our Indian recipes are here, and the Indian Essentials Series is here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Tulsi Chai

For this chai, use the leaves of either the Ram Tulsi or the Krishna Tulsi (Tree Tulsi or Red/Shyama Tulsi).  If you don’t have access to fresh tulsi you can also purchase Tulsi teabags in health shops, or use sweet basil or perennial basil leaves.  I have even included some Thai Basil in this Chai. Surprisingly, these also taste very good and are relaxing. But use Tulsi if you can, it has many health benefits.

Are you looking for other Chai recipes? Try Tulasyadi Phanta, Liquorice and Spice Chai, Masala Chai with Tulsi, Ginger and Cardamom, Chai Masala, Peppery Chai, and Ashram Chai.

Browse all of our Chai recipes, or all of our Drinks and Teas. All of our Indian dishes are here. Or enjoy exploring our Late Autumn dishes.

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