Sunday, July 22, 2012

A cuppa chai.....

Nothing's as comforting; or as nostalgia-evoking; as a cup of Chai....

My parents began their mornings; and ended their work day; with some alone time together.  Just the two of themselves, and their cups. My mom's without sugar; my dad's with honey. They planned all things important at this time- their monthly budget, holidays, celebrations, our future and theirs. As I grew older, I learned to leave them alone with their thoughts in the mornings. With their Chai in the evenings, we talked about our day at school and my dad's day at the court. My mom listened to all three of us, and said very little. 

When we fell sick, our mom made us her special cup- Chai with Adrak and Tulsi- ginger and holy basil; the unfailing cure from everything to sniffles to low grades to adolescent mood swings. And she sat by us till we finished our cup and declared that we felt better....

She even had a recipe for the days that we were just being kids and wanted Chai without a good reason (in her eyes) - she just boiled our cups of milk with a pinch of tea leaves- for the color rather than the flavor.

I've tried to recreate those Chai- mornings with A....but it's just not the same as my mom and dad. He is just not the right Chai person...

Over the years, I developed a chai ritual at work in the afternoon. Started with my grad school- there were four of us - and we'd walk down to the neighborhood stall popularly known as Mishraji's for  a mid afternoon snack and chai.  Plus a lot of sharing, caring and planning our futures. 

This continued here in the US, when one of my grad school colleagues followed me here for her post-doc.  These past few years, a much junior colleague from my grad school has been my Chai-partner in the afternoons. With both of these girls, the ritual acquired a whole new dimension, and our mid afternoon breaks for Chai were great stress busters- both work related and personal. The first one of these girls moved out of the country, and the second one has been sick for the past few weeks.  

And my Chai breaks have taken a serious break......

Drinks, milk, recipe

For 1 cup:
Water : 2/3 cup
Tea leaves: 1tsp
Sugar 1/2 Tbsp (to taste)
Milk 1/3 cup
Ginger grated a generous Tbsp

  1. Boil the water with ginger and sugar till it reaches a rolling boil.
  2. Add in the tea leaves, and let boil for another 2-3 min.
  3. Pour in the milk, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer for a few more minutes.
  4. Strain into a cup, and enjoy.

My two cents: I've been missing my Chai partner at work for a while now.  And I miss the camaraderie that my parents seemed to ooze out with their cups of tea- the same camaraderie that I feel I share  with my friends when we take a chai break. Here's wishing them both well in the future.  And a speedy road to health to the second one. 

As for the everyday cup is the Adrak-wali Chai that I've talked about here. The other popular flavors I remember....ginger and holy basil, cardamom (Elaichi), cinnamon, cloves and cardamom (Masala), and one that I recently tasted and liked- Pudina wali Chai- Chai with mint. 

Irrespective of the flavors, an Indian cup of tea is made with lots of sugar and milk. No black, sugarless stuff for us; Thank you very much....
Linked to:

  1. Gayatri's event Walk through the memory Lane
  2. Jagruti's event Monsoon of India hosted by Sayantani