My pen hovers over the blank page far too long, impossible to capture all the essence, spice, experience, ritual and meaning wrapped up in a single cup of a chai in a single writing. You must taste it, smell it, feel it, hold it, experience it. One must use all five sense to even begin to understand what chai is to a nation and all who have ever been in one way or another inspired by this land.
Rather, I feel it best to skip the words and simply invite you into my home for a cup of my finest. And perhaps one day, I can make that into a reality but until then, these words and still will have to do. Perhaps we make it a show, Bungalow ChaiTime, Chit, Chaat & Chai - the name will come, we will invite guests to make chai, talk shop and engage in the forgotten or rather, subdued art of conversation (remember when we used to talk to one another in real life, face to face, person to person)? Let's do more of that again, shall we?
We will speak of meditative design, India inspired living, spices, fabrics, habits, daily rituals, ayurvedic skincare and the like as learned by the women who came before us, current inspirations and wherever else our chai may take us. Whatever the topic at hand, chai will always be there. The common thread.
Alas, I digress.
"I never know where a deceptively simple cup of chai will lead. But I am sure to follow."
There is so something common yet so regal about the ritual of it, the process, the making of it. In an age of automization and rushing and insta-mixes and insta-grams, I find myself yearning ever more for the ways of my parents, their parents, their parents' parents. My ancestors. Perhaps they knew something we have forgotten?
This making of a cup of tea seems like a much needed royal, mid-day, enchanting escape no matter where in the world you reside or happen to be in this very moment. A cup of milky chai can be whisked up and enjoyed.
I hesitate to even include a recipe as it would be entirely simplistic and would barely begin to do this justice. I don't want to tell you what to do as there are as many ways to make and tweak chai as there are people brewing the majestic concoction. Perhaps this is the point. I will list somewhere on this blog the foundation, the ingredients but I invite you to make it yours, to test, to experiment, to play like an alchemist, like a chai-wallah, until you find your style of chai, your take on the subject. And please note, once you have found your take, be open to changing your mind as you evolve, as you change.
There are seasons of life that will require a touch of sugar on top. There are other seasons of life that will require an extra helping of caffeinated black tea like when the kids are young.
Some, like my husband, prefer a particularly spicy chai and a whole lot of fresh ginger that delivers a sting upon sipping. (I recommend this when you feel a bit of a cold coming on and your throat is scratchy). In this ginger-y chai, the ginger will dominate and not to mention it will do wonders for your health. I enjoy a slight ginger kick but not to the point where it overpowers the rest of the spices. I enjoy a particularly harmonious cacophony of spices that electrify my tastebuds as I sip and swallow. As the warm, frothy drink soothes my insides and quite literally melts away tension and anxiety I hold in my chest and simultaneously instantaneously exports me to a chai field in wild India of my romanticized version of India.
In my book, a good cup of chai is when all the spices take their place and play their part, working together to create a beautiful symphony. A grand orchestra right in my cup. And I, the chai-wallah, the conductor.
Such romance, mystery and the essence of India all in a cup!
How can I capture and describe here with mere words the magic that happens when that rich, warm tea slides down your throat, soothing your chest on its way to your heart instantly melting away all stress and anxiety while bringing you back to life with a zesty zing, a loving spice.
My wish for you is ample time and a solid cup of chai that meets you exactly where you are and takes you someplace else,