Torie’s Masala Chai

Torie says:

There is something incredibly comforting and nourishing about a cup of masala chai, no matter what time of year it is. In the autumn and winter months in the UK, I love to return to the house after a bracing walk and make myself some warming spiced tea to sip beside the fire. It works equally well in the hot Indian sunshine; stopping at a chai wallah a couple of times a day is a ritual I greatly enjoy. That rush of sugar and spice in milky tea really lifts the spirit and brings me some inner zen.


600ml water
7.5cm (3 inches) fresh ginger
7 green cardamom pods
5 black peppercorns
3 cloves
½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp ground cinnamon or 7.5cm (3 inches) cinnamon stick or bark
400ml milk of your choice
2-3 tsp loose black tea leaves
3 tsp sugar or jaggery


First, bring the water to the boil. While it heats up, cut the fresh ginger into rounds, leaving
the skin on, then use a pestle and mortar (or the end of a rolling pin) to open the green
cardamom pods and bruise the black peppercorns and ginger to release more flavour.

Place all the spices in the boiling water and swirl them around the pan. Simmer gently for a
couple of minutes.

Add the milk of your choice to the pan and gently bring the mixture back to the boil. In India,
they typically use a full-fat milk.

Allow the chai to reach boiling point a couple of times so it becomes frothy, turning the heat
down or off to prevent it from spilling over. It all happens quite fast so keep a close eye on
the pan.

Now add the loose black tea leaves and stir well before adding the sugar or jaggery. If you
prefer a sweeter chai, add a little more sugar.

Let the chai simmer for 5 minutes, turning the heat down or off each time it looks like it
might boil over.

To serve, strain the hot liquid into small cups and enjoy your milky masala chai. The wallahs
in India often pour the tea from an impressive height to add extra froth before serving it. I’ll
leave it up to you regarding how authentic you wish to be at this point!

Chilli & Mint: Indian Home Cooking from A British Kitchen, by Torie True (£25, published by Meze Publishing, available in Waterstones)

spices used

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