Chai Garam: Fabulous Indian Tea Recipes Collected From Experiences

“Chai garam..chai garam…” (Hot tea…hot tea)

A familiar voice wakes you up, as you open your eyes, trying to figure how far are you from your destination. You try to straighten your posture a bit and crave for a hot cuppa as he hurries through the crowded alley of the train, made even more busy with oversize baggage {that did not fit under the seat}, stray sandals and wrappers. You call out…

“Bhaiya ek chai dena. Kaise diya?” (A cup of tea please, how much are you selling it for?)

He hands out a cuppa, half filled with steaming hot milk, and sticks in a tea bag. He half-yells.

“10 rupya, achha chai hain” (10 bucks and its good)

Disappointed, you crib:

“Kya achha hain, 10 rupya? kam se kam pura to bharo” (What’s good in it! It’s so expensive. At least fill it to the brim)

Faasos Tea 1

He takes your cup, fills it a bit more and returns it to you. He moves on pitching for his super-ilaichi chai. You know you’ve gotten a good deal when you take that first sip. You think, “oh, what would railways be without the IRCTC chai”. And that’s not the end of our love for tea. We would go as far as to say that a certain kind of tea triggers almost triggers in us fond memories and we couldn’t help but talk about those beautiful tea recipes collected through travel and experiences. It’s an honor to be sharing these typical, not so hyped and fabulous chai recipes.

Tapri Wali Cutting Chai Recipe 

Chai 2 (1)

Our design team, enjoying a steaming cuppa! 

Mumbai is incomplete without its tin roofed, ubiquitous, tarpaulin-ed tea stalls! Lacing the busy streets; these stalls are Mumbai’s life force! As you walk the pavement you are welcomed every 100 meters with that quintessential whiff of gingered, strong tea that begs you to stop a while and get a shot. Why do we call it a shot? Because cutting in this context means A cup of tea divided into two portions. It’s sugary, strong and a shot is enough to open your dreary head.

chai 1

From an early morning chai-sutta to a quick “chaar baje chai and khuli hawa” Tapri wali chai has no substitute. And although its hard to replicate the experience, here’s to you the recipe!

  • 2 cups of water
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 2 t/s strong chai / tea powder {CTC}
  • 2-3 cardamom freshly pounded
  • 1 inch ginger grated or crushed
  • 2 tbsp sugar or as required

Get everything to a good boil {and yes, together} and let it simmer for about 1 minute. Strain and serve in glasses.

Indian Railways Ki Elaichi Chai

TEA3 (1)

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tea bag per cup
  • 2-3 cardamom freshly pounded
  • A pinch of salt

Boil milk, water, salt, sugar and cardamom. Add tea bag in plastic/terracotta cups, pour milk, and serve.

Darjeeling Tea


Those of us from the North of Bengal had the luxury of sippin’ onto some amazing Orange Pekoe- now this is not a tea to be taken lightly. You do not boil this, you seep this. You do not boil with milk and sugar but add them later preferably in a tea pot. The taste is light as smokey; the flavour reminds you of tea gardens and its a wonderful light tea that sets the mood on a Sunday with a biscotti or two. Oftentimes dad and I used to sit in Glenary’s, order for a cuppa and finish our work. Ah those days! Here’s to you, how to make Darjeeling tea.

  • 2 cups of water
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon tea/cup
  • Sugar

Rinse a teapot with hot water (this prevents loss of heat) and add tea leaves. Let it seep for about a minute. Strain, add milk and sugar or enjoy it as is with honey.

Tibetan Buttered Tea Gurgur



On our way to Nathu-La pass we happened to stop at a quaint little spot for tea, and were surprised to find tea served with butter! Found this bit later that home made butter made from yak’s milk is a common inclusion to Tibetan tea & cuisine and we cannot explain how fabulous it is to have a sip of warm buttered tea on an altitude of 4000 meters.  But, this tea is not easy to make at home.

It is said that the best gurgur is one in which tea leaves have been boiled for about half a day! It is then skimmed and poured into a churning cylinder with fresh yak butter and salt. The mixture is then churned, which finally gives out a pinkish liquid about the thickness of stew. Now while I do think that a blender can do the trick but we’ve never really tried this. Precisely why we are not giving the recipe of this one.

As always, we will have to continue this to part 2 because as you all can see we have reached a humongous 800 words.

Let us know your thoughts, tell us how is tea made at yours and let’s get talking!



3 thoughts on “Chai Garam: Fabulous Indian Tea Recipes Collected From Experiences

      • brendonthesmilingchef

        Totally agreed. Actually it’s funny because I’ve never lived in India (true blue Aussie hehehe) but visiting my extended family as an adult really helped me realise how incredibly diverse and vibrant the country is. I remember visiting as a very narrow minded six-year-old and not being able to appreciate it because it ws quite out of my comfort zone. It was only as an adult that I was able to understand and truly value the struggles people face each day, but how generous and open to giving they are. Also I like that you mentioned that tea triggera memories…reminded me of the story of “cafe culture” and the coffee houses that opened up in Paris around the 1600s. Having coffee/ tea/ hot chocolate meant sharing intellectual ideas and experiences with other like-minded people. It was all about discussions and helped to develop many great ideas. It’s kind of like what we’re doing right now. Happy tea time! Keep smiling 😉


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