The hardest part about making chai might be getting someone to give you a precise recipe. Every family has its own recipe that consists of “a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” One person will tell you not to include cloves, while another will tell you that there should be a lot of cinnamon. But after a lot of digging, phone calls, and trial and error, I was able to get my family recipe down on paper. And since chai differs even more greatly from region to region, we’ll just call this a Gujurati cha* recipe.
What You Need for the Masala:
3 tbsp. black pepper
2 tbsp ginger powder
2 tbsp cardamom powder
1/2 tbsp clove
1 tbsp cinnamon
What to Do for the Malasa:
Whether you grind the black pepper, cardamom, clove and cinnamon fresh or you use pre-powdered spices, mix all of these plus the ginger powder together and store in an airtight container. In total, you should have about 3/4 cup of this masala. For each cup, you will only be using about an 1/8 teaspoon.
What You Need for the Tea:
1/8 tsp chai masala
½ cup milk (whole or 2%. If using skim milk, use a little more milk and a little less water)
½ cup water
½ tbsp loose leaf black tea or 1 black tea packet
¼ tsp fresh grated ginger (optional**)
Sugar to taste
What to Do for the Tea:
In a pot, add water, milk, tea, masala and ginger and bring to a boil.
Once it has come to a boil, let it boil for a minute, then place the lid on the pot, take it off the heat and let it sit for five minutes. Strain, add sugar and serve.
* cha is the Gujurati word for chai
** you can add fresh ginger whenever you like, but typically in India, this is a winter thing.