Mr.Tyagi’s ginger tea – Indian style
I am a coffee addict through and through. Coffee and garlic are the main ingredients of that which runs through my veins. But with age, along with my views and beliefs, my tastes have expanded widely to an extent that very few extremes exist and the whole thing is a great big amalgamation of various sources nicely settled in a colorful pile and providing me great comfort.
The latest addition to my repertoire is ginger tea. Ginger is used a lot in different forms throughout Asia and the tea has many variations on the continent.
– Time for ginger tea, a? – Mr. Tyagi, would stand up from his chair, his head nodding sideways knowingly, because this is not a question, it’s a confirmation, or if you wish, a reminder that it is indeed time to sip on the hot, sweet and delightfully spicy drink. Just like it is the other 2 times a day.
One of those times, Mr.Tyagi, our most graceful host in Delhi, ginger tea master, agreed to show me how to prepare chai.
– Should I put apron, a? – enthusiastically he looks around and pulls the green cloth from somewhere.
– Is it your wife’s? – I laugh, infected by his excitement.
– My wife’s?…ah, yes – his grin gets bigger as he proudly puts on the apron, as a knight adorning his armor.
Ginger may have many ways of making it into a tea form, but if you end up in one of India’s houses this is most likely what you will get.
The recipe comes as is, without measurements and requirements, and if I asked, I doubt Mr.Tyagi would be able to tell me anyway, because he does it by feel, as he has for many years.
1. Put some water in a pan.
For 3 teas, about that much.
2. Add milk.
By the looks of it, the quantity is a bit less than the water, but dont quote me on it.
3. Pound your fresh ginger in the mortar and pestle. You can also crush it, slice it thinly or whatever other option you can think of.
The chef said about half a fingernail per cup. Mix in the pan.
3. Add tea and sugar.
The tea should be plain without a flavour of its own. The most commonly used in India is granulated looking one – for example Taj Mahal Black tea and Brooke Bond Red Label. The quantity is up to you really, same with the sugar. This tea is supposed to be sweet though, so if you omit it dont come back to complain. About a spoon per cup is a good start.
Brew all the goodies together for a few minutes, so the ginger and tea have time to release their flavour and the sugar can mix in. Watch out that it doesnt froth too much and escape your pan. The mess will be all yours to clean up.
5. Strain into cups
Variations: you can add in clove, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper etc. to make masala tea. I have heard fresh peppermint is a great addition too, and I imagine the result will be quite refreshing. A few leaves of fresh earl gray tea has been delightful the few times we have had it up in the Himalayas.
But, if you want to stick to the basics and the way that is done day in day out in the kitchens around India, now you know how.
Thank you, Mr. Tyagi.