Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Kattan Chai - Black Tea

                   After a small breakfast like a bird's food, this old man from nagercoil, who was in his seventies, with a slight limp and a frail body, would climb down the stairs, find a shady corner under the trees and would start working with his knife making broomstick from a big pile of coconut leaves that were cut down earlier. He would move only for his lunch and would be back to his place continuing where he had left. Neither T.V nor idle gossip interested him. He loved working hard as much as he loved his chai. All that he asked was a simple kattan chai, a bitter concoction, without sugar, with a little squeeze of lemon. Irrespective of how the tea tasted or who made it, he never complained. If my mother couldn't fix his drink, I was asked to make it for him and now I know how it must have tasted back then. But, he was a happy man as long as he had his kattan chai twice a day; that was my late grandfather, who never fails to cross my memory everytime I make this Kattan Chai.

                    It's pouring outside, I reach for a stole to wrap myself warm. The weather is pleasant prompting me soon to settle with a glass of black tea in hand, that smells wonderfully aromatic and a plate of home made tapioca chips. Winter is gorgeous!

                    This black tea with spices also makes a wonderful 'after meal drink' for good digestion. Served in tiny glasses, these mini shots of tea makes a meal complete. It's a common sight in the Arab countries where people constantly sip their black teas while having their lunch and restaurants serving the drink free of charge after a meal. It's caught up in Chennai too, restaurants like Ente Keralam serve  'spiced black tea' also called as 'sulaimani tea' as an after meal drink. It's quite an addictive drink!

Tea dust                    1 tsp
Water                       2 cups
Cinnamon                  1 inch piece
Cloves                      4
Cardamom                3
Star anise                  1
Dried ginger               1/2 inch piece

Coriander seeds         1/4 tsp
Pepper                     1/4 tsp
Mint leaves              10 
Lemon Juice             1/4 tsp
Sugar                     6 tsp or more to taste

Take cinnamon, cloves, dried ginger, cardamom, star anise, coriander seeds, pepper and mint leaves and crush in a mortar and pestle. 
Bring water to a boil in a pan, add the tea dust and the crushed masala. Let it boil vigorously for fifteen to twenty seconds. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a lid and leave it so for about 3-4 minutes.
Open the lid add in the lemon juice, strain the tea, add sugar to taste and serve hot.

For a strong tea, use only 1 1/2 cups of water.
If you like strong flavours, increase the spices according to taste.

Although I would suggest making fresh tea always, you can use a tea infuser to make instant tea if you do not have time.
Crush the said ingredients and place it in the infuser along with the tea leaves. Immerse the infuser in a bowl of recently boiled water and leave it so for three to four minutes. Remove the infuser, squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice, add sugar to taste and drink.
(The tea infuser was not used to make the tea in the picture, it was made in the regular method)

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Hiya all,
Finally on this day of october the 1st, 2012, I have decided to include the comment form, after a long gap of two years. But, I am going to be a bit selfish here and keep all those nice and lovely things that is said for me and only me to cherish and will be sharing any queries that requires clarifications and your experience about the food if you have tried my recipes. So, drop in a word if you have anything to say and thanks a lot for stopping by.
"Have a nice day"

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