When you drink a mug of tea for literally everything, you tend to spice it up. That’s where chai masala comes in.
Chai is not a beverage. It’s the soul, and heart of my days. When friends drop by, I brew tea. When the family gets together, I brew even more tea. On a sad day, a cup of tea becomes the cozy embrace I crave. On a tiring day, a chai ki pyali becomes the reviving kick I need.
What’s chai masala?
Made with a blend of spices that grace every pantry, chai masala adds a unique flavor journey to tea very much worth exploring.
Traditionally, chai masala uses a balance of cloves, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and black peppercorn. But just like mint chutney, each household has a different brand of chai masala.
So, there is no right or wrong way to make it. It all depends upon which direction your tastebuds want to take it.
How to Make Homemade Chai Masala?
You take all the spices you want in the masala and grind them into a fine powder. That’s it. It’s that easy to make.
I do like to roast the spices for about a minute in a dry skillet. Let them cool and then grind. It makes the fragrance and flavor of the spices more verdant and intense. But this is an entirely optional step, and if you’re not in the mood for extra effort, please skip it.
The seven spices I use to prepare chai masala at home are:
This is a very bossy spice that tends to run rampant over other flavors. Grinding it into a powder reduces the sharp tang and adds more depth to tea. Laung, as the spice is known in Hindi, is a wonderful pain reliever and an antiviral.
I call it a chameleon spice because it has more nuances to its flavor than any other. It makes tea sweetly spicy and warmer. Jaayaphal also helps calms the nerves and improves digestion.
A truly enlivening spice which has an intense flavor and when eaten raw gives an inimitable taste sensation. Grinding makes it highly aromatic and perfect for bringing fragrant sweetness to the tea. Eliachi is a handy digestive aid too.
The piquant spice has a peculiar balance of sweet and spicy. It is full of antioxidants, potassium and A, B, and C vitamins. Adding it to tea makes the flavor subtly sweet. But it is dalchini’s warming quality that stimulates blood circulation which make it a wonder for winter teas.
A slightly fiery and hot spice that tends to impart a rich woody zest to dishes. It perks up tea with a spicy and warm buzz. But it’s the three labels adrak holds -anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-indigestion - that make it a must in chai masala.
This spice is a culinary wonder that transforms any food into their bolder versions. Adding the hot, earthy spice to tea makes it gorgeously pungent. That kali mirch also has healing properties, open up the sinuses and get the blood pumping is the cherry on top.
The spice with an aromatic bouquet and a refreshing taste is a unicorn – it’s both warming and cooling. To tea, it brings a cooling effect, and legend has it courage. Saunf also takes care of all sorts of stomach ailments, from bloating to acid reflux!
Using chai masala
With chai masala, a little goes a long way. If you’re preparing one cup of tea, add a quarter teaspoon of the powder.
I have a plant or two of holy basil growing in my garden, so I always put 2 or 3 tulsi leaves to my morning and 4 pm cuppa. For those who love a gingery taste, grate some fresh ginger in your brew.
You can even make herbal tea with the masala. Simply brew the powder in simmering water for a couple of minutes and serve with a dash of lemon.
Its a great spice mix to have on hand for a chai spice latte!
Variations of the recipe
You can adjust any of the spices based on your taste. I’m not too fond of a very sharp punch to my tea, so I go light on the black pepper.
When it’s winter, I up the amount of cinnamon and ginger as both are warming spices. During summer, when you need a bit of cooling, it’s cardamom and fennel that dominate.
I would advise making the spice mixture in small quantities and maintaining its freshness by storing it in an air-tight jar.
Why make your own chai masala?
Yes, you can buy readymade chai masala, but I feel it never packs the same punch. Freshly grinding the spices gives more depth and aroma that you can never get out of a boxed version.
Besides the guaranteed freshness, you can customize the assortment of spices as per your preference. You can include any spice you adore, or remove the one that doesn’t sit right with you.
Personally, I also like to make tea masala because I’m forever adding it to my bakes. The comfort, warmth, and contentment the chai masala brings are unrivaled. And, of course, it makes the baked goodies gratifyingly redolent!
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Homemade Chai Masala
- 2 tbsp Fennel seeds/ saunf
- 1.5 tbsp Green cardamom / elaichi
- 1 tbsp Cloves / laung
- 1.5 tsp Black pepper / kali mirch
- 1 stick Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Ginger powder
- 1 tsp Nutmeg powder/ Jaiphal
- Dry roast the fennel sees, cardamom, cloves, black pepper and cinnamon stick ( broken into small pieces) for 1 -2 minutes. Just until they are fragrant.
- Cool the spices and grind them in your coffee/ masala grinder to a fine powder.
- Grate the nutmeg.
- Stir in the ginger and nutmeg powder into the spice mix.
- Mix well and store in an air-tight jar.
- Use 1/4 tsp per cup of masala tea. Enjoy!