A vendor carrying a steel container, with a small tap, on his shoulders and paper/plastic cups ready in his hand, shouting " Chaiiii Garam Chaiiiii" in that typical tone (I wish I could replicate that tone here!)
I call him towards my window & ask " Coffee hai kya???"
I was never a great fan of tea. In fact I did not even know how it tasted until just 3 yrs back. Give me coffee any time and any kind cold/hot, instant/filter and home made/bought at cafes and any number of times at that. During my working days I was called 'The chain Coffee Drinker' analogous to the Chain smoker! But I was never enthusiastic about Tea. One of the reasons for this could be that my mom had never had tea all her life as well! and maybe that got imbibed in us kids. This posed a small little problem when we visited someone. Everyone invariably offers you tea & when you say that you don't drink tea at all, they start giving you other options. coffee? Juice? Nimbu Pani? plain milk? If you don't accept any of the other options, they feel odd that when everyone is sipping away at the Tea & munching biscuits, there you are just looking at everyone and not having anything. If you accept them, you feel odd that the host had to go out of the way to make/arrange something for you! Just over 3 yrs back at one of the family friend's place, the lady just assumed that everyone drinks tea & came with the cups full. Now it seemed very rude to say No at that time so I reluctantly took the cup & gingerly(ahem..) took a sip expecting it to be very repulsive & odd tasting. But to my pleasant surprise it was quite nice. I started having Tea once in a while after that day. Now I enjoy my cup of Tea which I drink regularly.
Most of the time I make plain tea or just add Ginger and Lemon grass to enhance the flavour. But once in a while we are in a mood for more 'Spicy' Tea & that's when I make this Masala Chai. I made just one change to the regular combination of masalas this time. I am going through a phase where I am sort of bugged up with the taste & smell of cardamom. I am not even using this in any of the desserts I am making, even kheer or shira. So even for the Masala Chai, I did not want to use it & instead added some grains of saunf(Fennel Seeds). The Tea actually tasted very refreshing & totally different but very nice.
To make 2 cups of Tea
1 cup water
4 tsp sugar
2-3 tsp Tea powder
1 cup Milk
For the Masala:
1/2 inch Cinnamon
2 pinches of saunf (Fennel Seeds)
Bring the water to a boil in a milk pan. Crush all the ingredients for the Masala & add to the boiling water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the Sugar and the Tea powder & boil for a min. Now add the milk & boil for another minute & turn off the fire.
I always knew that Saunf played a major role in Kashmiri Cuisine. So when I made this Tea using saunf I naively assumed that I had made Kahwa, the Kashmiri Tea. Then I happened to look for it on the internet and found that my Tea did not even come close to Kahwa! Its something totally different. I will definitely make the 'Real Kahwa' soon but for now we really liked this 'saunfiya Masala Chai' & will be repeating this one for sure!
PS: I was speaking to my mom a few days back & she told me that she has started to drink Tea occasionally! Now I have to rememeber to share this recipe with her the next time I talk to her...:)