Just a sip of Masala Chai and I am back in Mumbai, walking without a real purpose along the Queen’s Necklace, the only real aim to wait for the sun to hit the sea before it sets.
The breeze in South Mumbai and the people around you at that point of the day are different. While during the day this city makes you feel like you have to rush to get somewhere, you are one person in a big crowd trying to achieve something, in the evening it changes; at this time you are part of the group, you feel like you really belong there and you know it all too well.
Sitting and watching the sunset with a small cup of masala tea is the essence of this city.
That is the moment you waited all day for and it is worth it, like very few other things.
The smell of the Indian Spices changes from cup to cup, chai wala to chai wala, but there is one thing Mumbai only offers and that is cutting chai.
What is cutting chai?
As people drink many cups of tea during the day, vendors came up with the concept of selling half cups for half the price; this way both tea intake and money spent could be managed better.
But what is typical of Mumbai chai is the fact that the flavor mainly centers on cardamom and ginger, with the first being a warming spice, and the root offering that kick to the throat, that freshness that gets you going.
Let’s talk nutrition!
Let’s focus on the two main flavorings: cardamom and ginger.
Cardamom: This spice originated in India and is now used globally in both savory and sweet recipes, however, its seeds, oil and extracts have been used for their medicinal properties for centuries.
Studies have shown how cardamom may help reduce blood pressure because of its diuretic properties, meaning that water retention could be reduced and pressure caused by it in particular organs may be reduced because of increased urination; cardamom is also rich in antioxidants which are claimed to affect lowering blood pressure as well.
These antioxidants have also been linked to the possibility that cardamom may protect cells in the body from being damaged and from inflammation, although studies have still to be conducted to further prove these statements.
For centuries cardamom has been used to cure bad breath and to prevent cavities; this is because it is thought that this spice has some properties that kill common bacteria present in the mouth.
Cardamom is safe to use in cooking for most people however there are no recommended dosages, as this spice still has to be fully investigated by the relevant authorities, therefore supplements of this spice should be taken in moderation and only under the supervision of a doctor.
Ginger: this is a flowering plant that originates from South East Asia, but nowadays it is used globally.
The root of this plant has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties and ancient writings describing these have been found in Rome, China, Arabic States, and Greece.
One of the main known benefits of ginger, which has also been proved in some studies, is to be able to soothe an upset stomach; it is widely used to help with morning sickness during pregnancy, nausea, and indigestion.
Ginger may as well have some anti-inflammatory properties, which may help especially with joint pain in those with arthritis, and may help manage blood sugar levels.
For every day’s life, this root is believed to be able to reduce the length of duration of the common cold, as it warms up the body, making one sweat the infections away.
In any case, one should always talk to the doctor before deciding to use ginger supplements, like any other supplement.
Black tea is another important ingredient in this recipe and we discussed it further in this article Is black tea good for you?
~~ What about Dandelion tea? Is it good for you?
What is masala chai?
It is a hot beverage made of spices (masala) and tea (chai) that have been boiled with water, milk and sweetened with sugar.
What is the difference between chai and masala chai?
Chai is tea, which is normally served with some milk and sugar, while masala chai has the addition of some spices, such as ginger, cardamom, cloves, etc.
What is chai tea?
Chai tea is tea tea. Yes, chai means tea in Hindi (it derives from the Chinese word for tea ‘’cha’’), so there is no need to add the word tea after it.
How to make masala cutting chai?
This recipe uses few ingredients most people have in their own home and does not require the use of very commonly sold masala chai tea bags. No, this is the original, chai wala cutting chai!
You start by bringing to the boil some water and simmering it with some black tea (Assam Tea most popularly used), ginger, and cardamom; after these have released their flavors you add milk and sugar and simmer for a bit longer, then strain the spices and serve!
Easy homemade masala cutting chai!
Is this the recipe for Indian Masala Chai?
It is an Indian Chai, but this is a recipe typical of Mumbai, called Cutting Chai, and concentrating on the flavors of ginger and cardamom.
Can I use ginger powder and cardamom powder for this recipe?
I do not use ginger powder as I find it way too strong and it loses many of its beneficial properties while it is being dried and powdered, so I would not recommend it, however, cardamom powder can be used instead of entire cardamoms. For this recipe you will probably need ¼ teaspoon of it, however, I would suggest starting with a very small amount and increase to taste.
Can I skip the sugar in this recipe?
Yes, you surely can! This recipe adds sugar at the end, therefore that can be omitted or reduced, as preferred.
Can I save the tea for another day?
Yes, you surely can. I would recommend storing the tea in the fridge as soon as it has thoroughly cooled down and using it within 24 hours. I would normally prepare this recipe and use half for two portions one afternoon, and the other half the afternoon after.
Can I prepare this recipe in the microwave?
As this recipe requires the tea to simmer for the spices to infuse, the result is better when done in a pan on the hob, however, it can be prepared in the microwave; I would suggest warming up the water in the microwave, adding the spices and then warm the water up again after 5 minutes to ensure the extra flavor is released. Stir the mix gently often while it is brewing to encourage the spices to release more flavor.
Can I use brown sugar instead of white sugar?
This tea calls for white sugar, like most teas! It is however up to your preference.
You will love this recipe as it tastes real, this is cutting chai in all its glory!
Enjoy it with some biscuits during the afternoon and be transported to the Queen’s Necklace with every sip!
~~ Love cardamom? Try this Pear and Almond Crumble with Cardamom Infused Custard
~~ Use your ginger to make this great and easy Schezwan Sauce
- 1 tbsp Ginger Fresh and Chopped
- 10 Cardamoms
- 2 tbsp Black Tea I used Assam
- 250 ml Water 1 cup
- 50 ml Semi-Skimmed Milk 2 oz – adjust the quantity according to taste
- 1 tbsp White Sugar – adjust the quantity according to taste
- In a mortar, using the pestle, crush the fresh ginger and cardamom pods until the seeds are lightly crushed and you can see the threads of the ginger. Should you not have a pestle and mortar, you can lightly grind these in an upside-down blender.
- Add the ginger, cardamom, tea, and water to a pot and bring to the boil; once it boils, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Add the milk and sugar, mix well, bring back to the boil, and allow to simmer for a further minute or two.
- Strain the cutting chai using a mesh strainer; using a spoon, lightly press the tea, cardamom, and ginger after straining to get the extra flavor out of them.
- Serve hot with some afternoon treats! Enjoy!