Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chai


I was giddy with spring fever. Or at least, a feeling that was akin to it as I knew that this was premature. Spring does not come to Wisconsin in early February but this respite of wintry weather was lulling me into a pleasant delusional state. The thawing of snow was present everywhere: blinding whiteness was replaced by the piebald earth, with twigs and stones haphazardly revealed.



I wanted a tea that would adequately match my mood and thought of masala chai. Its riot of spices - cardamon, cinnamon, and pepper amongst them- bespeaks a festive spirit. As I sipped the chai, between bites of a fluffy mozarella, tomato, and basil omelette and in the wonderful company of a friend, I was reminded of the tea's provenance in India. Nowadays, street tea vendors called chai wallahs, hawk chai on Indian streets and this tea is very much an everyday drink. I was struck by the contrast between the inherent luxuriance of the tea imparted by its spices and its more prosaic mode of consumption.

Later during the weekend, I had more steamy cups of chai, this time in an Indian restaurant with more good company. This incarnation of the tea was milkier and less sweet. I seemed to taste its Darjeeling base more readily. The chai's silky sweetness went well with the dosai, paper-thin rice crepes, mine flecked with bits of spinach. The crepes' crispiness held up to the aromatic tomato onion sauce in which they were dipped.

A spirited discussion on religion ensued as I relished the ending to our meal. The wonderful kheer, dreamily milky with cardamon, that now familiar spice echoed in my chai as well.


A fitting paean to friendship, indeed.

4 comments:

ana dane said...

isn't chai the best? it's so hard for me to make it if no one is sharing it, though, because i end up drinking four cups worth in about 45 minutes. it's too hard to resist!

Cha sen said...

I wholeheartedly agree. I tend to only order it when going out for that very reason, limiting myself to a very chaste one large mug!

Nexus 6 said...

Hi, I would like to recommend the "Sorapot". No matter how many hours you've whiled away in tearooms and chashitsu, you've never seen a teapot like this. At rest, it looks like a modernist sculpture of a dachshund. Come tea time, you flip it on it's rear, unhinge the spout and drop in the loose tea leaves. Add hot water-up to 11 ounces, enough for two cups -then kick back and watch the leaves dance as they turn your brew the exact depth of color you desire. Crafted from Pyrex glass and stainless steel the Sorapot will likely outlive its owner. It is designed to age gracefully, with each pot developing a unique patina. An old-looking heirloom. Check it out! I bid you peace!

Cha sen said...

Nexus 6,

Very tempting. My birthday is coming up:)