Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A foggy morning, Cup of Chai and Festival season roundup



 

The winter season is creeping in fast in this part of the country. Today when I woke up and looked out of the window I saw nothing, I mean just a white blur of nothingness. I rubbed my eyes assuming I was still dreaming. But yet I see the same. All the quaint pastel colored red roofed buildings, the perfectly manicured green lawns, the bright orange cosmos blossoms,  the neatly tarred path through our housing society even the huge open amphitheater that was there till last night till we went to bed had simply vanished. Poof! It took some time to register that a thick wall of mist was staring back at me which was so dense that the visibility was reduced to a few feet merely. I was pretty surprised realizing it since just two days back we had heavy rains in outskirts of Pune and till yesterday morning we didn’t have any trace of morning mist let alone this thick wall of blob. I went back to  my regular chores of cooking still thinking about the mist. Almost half an hour later I heard hubby call out my name from the bedroom and asking is this mist or something else. I saw him looking out of the window starry eyed - same effect as I had after waking up. We went out to the balcony to take snaps. My D90 was struggling to focus as it sensed the object in front too near due to the flowing mist. It was pretty chilly outside and felt like we were in Darjeeling where it’s very common to be kissed by the clouds and mist in the morning. A charming start to the day indeed!

A cup of Tea & the Foggy Morning

On such a cold morning whats more rewarding experience than a mug of freshly made warm, comforting and mildly sweet chai. So delicate and beautiful – the color of the tea looks like liquid amber. Tea is such an inevitable part of almost every India's life. There are people who can't start their day until they get their due cup of tea. My mom is a avid Tea drinker. From time I remember I have seen her drink tea at least thrice a day religiously - the calming one in the morning when no one woke up, a hurried one during the breakfast and one in the evening lazying around with a good book. As a kid I always dipped biscuit in her evening tea, which really irritate her because it became cold due to my constant biscuit stirring. So when I grew up a bit she used to give me a separate cup of tea in the evening. I was never fond of tea as a kid so that cup of tea was only to soak the pile of biscuits I would sit down with. Even now I am not a big fan of Tea but have a cup of raw tea during morning with a couple of cookies. Its a light snack that I have while cooking. We only have dinner at home and return very late from office so I prepare the dinner gravy in the morning itself.

For me tea always meant to be tea leaves brewed in milk and sugar. But chai with milk in it many a times resulted in heartburn. I am a bit intolerant to lactose as well. So this was one more reason I avoided tea. But strangely with coffee I didn't have this heartburn issue only felt too full. Post marriage I started to drink raw tea and like it too. It's a habit I picked up after seeing in my in-laws home. The raw tea never gave me any issues. Tea leaves brewed in hot water and a spoon of sugar and sometimes for a change I squeeze in a wedge of lemon to vary the taste.


When I was in Atlanta I saw Starbucks introducing Chai Latte / Chai Tea which became an instant hit among the people. Americans liked the taste which was very much like masala chai. Chai Tea is such a misnomer as Chai itself means Tea in Hindi, So when you translate Chai Tea it means "Tea Tea". But then that's how its marketed in US and no one really cares whether its Tea Tea or simply Tea. Much is talked about Masala Chai. Even when you search net you will only find recipes of Masala chai only. However I am repulsed by it totally. The strong smell of cinnamon, cardamom, clove and other spices totally overwhelms the original flavor of Tea. Maybe when the flavor of tea leaves is not that exceptional all these spices are required to make it richer. But in India any good quality expensive tea whether Darjeeling, Assam or simply CTC tea have such rich and flavorful texture and taste that its a sin to mess up with the original flavor  with all those spices. Maybe a bit of Ginger is fine as its very good when taken during a cold but that's that. Creamy milk, sugar and a tea spoon of the best quality tea leaves - the magic it weaves is only felt if you taste it. Water has also a major role to play in enhancing the inner flavors of a tea leaf. I remember when we had gone to Darjeeling, mom and all my relatives became very fond of the Darjeeling tea that the maid used to make everyday. So when they returned to the plains they got many packets of the same brand of Darjeeling tea. The exact same method was used to prepare the tea and yet there was a lot to be desired in the taste. Even after trying for several times with milk or no milk when the taste could not be recreated my grandpa concluded it might be the mountain water that resulted in the brilliant taste.

Here are the two simple ways I prepare my tea.

Raw Tea :-

Preparation Time: 5 minutes 
Serves : 2

Ingredients :

  • Tea Leaf - 2 tsp
  • Sugar - 1 tsp
  • Water - 2 1/2  cup

Method:

  In a Saucepan take the water and add sugar. Let the water boil, add the tea leaves. Let it simmer for 1 minute. Switch off heat and cover lid. Let it stand for couple of minutes. Strain and serve. If you let it stand for more time the color will darken and tea will become a bit strong. So depending upon the standing time the taste shall vary.

For ginger tea coarsely grind 2" ginger and let it boil along with water.
Raw Tea


Milk Tea :-

Preparation Time: 5 minutes 

Serves : 2
  
Ingredients :

  • Tea Leaf - 2 tsp
  • Sugar - 1 tsp
  • Milk - 1 1/2 cup
  • Water - 1  cup

Method:

 In a Saucepan take the milk, water and sugar. Let it boil, add the tea leaves. Let it simmer for 1 minute. Switch off heat and cover lid. Let it stand for couple of minutes. Strain and serve.

CTC tea leaves can be added right at the beginning and the whole  thing can be brought to boil and then served.

For more creamy tea use 2 1/2 cup full cream milk.
Milk Tea
Today is the last day of the extended holidays for Diwali - the end of all festivities for this year. Now again looking forward to the festival time in the coming year. A pictorial roundup of Durga Puja and Diwali this year.

Diwali Lights in our Patio

The Temple at home & Diwali Rangoli
Durga Puja @ Kali Bari Khadki
Durga Puja @ Matre Bridge



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