Recipe 6: The Perfect Chai
Ask any subcontinental family to vouch for the importance of “chai time” and you'll hear about a highly essential evening dose of caffeine and chatter which blossoms in most households during the evenings, a few hours before dinner.
My most appetising memories have always been chai time at my Nani’s home in Pakistan.
The fresh brew would be served accompanied by an assortment of sweets and treats: cakes, jalebis, samosas and chaats.
The chai itself would be served in Nani’s finest China - crockery so beautiful and delicate, one couldn’t help but extend a pinky now and again while drinking. The teapot would be covered with a handmade tea cosy with matching napkins and twin milk and sugar jars placed side by side, and together, it would all be wheeled in and set right before Nani.
The children would eye the cakes and treats, eagerly awaiting an elder to cut the inaugural slice or sliver of something delicious before we could make our ambush. While we fell over ourselves to eat those treats, Nani and the elders would sit in a circle sipping on their tea and discussing 'hot topics' of the hour.
“The tailor made my off-white silk kurta far too snug again! I just gave him my measurements last week!” (The daily dose of cakes and sweets consumed were not blamed here, of course)
“Did you watch the season finale of Humsafar last night? How gorgeous is Fawad Khan looking?
No matter what the current bone of contention, it was always a heartwarmingly mundane conversation that the whole family, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children, would gather to share.
With most of my family relocating elsewhere in hopes of better lives and opportunities, it’s moments like these I miss the most.
Water to boil
2 tbsp tea leaves
Milk (according to taste)
Sugar (according to taste)
Steps to make The Perfect Chai:
- Boil a pot of water.
- Once boiled, add a tablespoon or two of your preferred tea leaves to the water. Allow it to brew into a vibrant red.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk.
- Pour the heated milk and sugar respectively into the twin set of jars that your mom inherited from her mother as part of her wedding trousseau (which you too someday will own.)
- Pour the tea into the matching tea pot.
- Align the teacups at 25-degree angles to your right elbow on a trolley.
- Push the trolley and place in right in front of your grandmother.
- Get your bone china and bone of contention ready for all to enjoy.