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Author Notes: There are as many ways to make chai as there are people in India (just kidding—but there are many ways!); what it boils down to is organic milk, black tea, sugar, and, in most but not all cases, spices like cardamom and ginger. “Cutting” refers to its small stature—a portion is usually no bigger than a half-cup—but the richness and flavors (cardamom and ginger definitely, other spices are optional) don’t make it seem so small spiritually.
As a South Indian, I’m more partial to coffee, which is why I decided to combine the two in this drink, borrowing the “dirty chai” terminology I see applied to tea-coffee drinks in the States.
Notes: Coffee is meant to be more of a background flavor here, softening the sharpness of the ginger; for a stronger coffee taste, feel free to use regular ground coffee or espresso instead of instant coffee. —Nikkitha Bakshani
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min
cup plus 4 teaspoons water, divided
crushed cardamom pods (about 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder)
-inch knob of ginger, grated (fresh is key!)
teaspoons loose black tea leaves (Assam tea is best)
bay leaf (dried), very optional
teaspoons instant coffee
cup whole organic milk (scale up to 1 cup for a milkier taste/thicker texture)
- In a saucepan, add water, cardamom, ginger, tea, bay leaf (if using) and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium flame; let it sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve 4 teaspoons of coffee in 4 teaspoons of cold water, and set aside. Add the milk and bring back to a boil; boil the tea for 2 minutes, mixing the whole time. Take off the heat and add the coffee concentrate. Mix.
- Place a strainer over a glass and pour the chai; do the same for the other glass. Drink up, with a “biscuit” (hard cookie), for the true Bombay experience.