Lunchbox: Masala Chai

I heard a poem the other day; it was about chai and lassi (a yoghurt based drink) represented as women, having an argument. It goes like this:

Lassi says to chai, ‘I’m so much better than you; I’m white, good looking and cool. People sleep with me, but they wake up with you. No one has to sweeten me with sugar, I’m already sweet’. Chai rebuttals with ‘I’m keep people warm, you make them cold and cough. Drinking me relaxes people, they drink me in important café’s, but they drink you in dirty alleys’.

This is when milk steps in and says ‘I’m related to both of you. Lassi is made from me and I’m added to chai. If someone burns themselves on chai, they can cool down on lassi. For me both are equal’.

Milk them pauses for a moment and then shrugs ‘But to be honest, lassi’s Indian, and chai was brought here by the Brits’.

It made me laugh so much, but chai was important in my childhood and teenage years in India. We drank it as a family, as friends and when making connections with people.


x2 small cardamom

x1 large black cardamom

x1 cinnamon stick

x2 cloves

1 pinch ajwain

x1 cube (according to taste) jaggery (sugar cane)

½ teaspoon grinded fresh ginger

1 tbsp. loose tea or x1 tea bag

½ cup milk

2 cups water

In a pan, add two cups water. Put in ground ginger and jaggery. Boil for a couple of minutes. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the cardamom, vadee lychee, cinnamon stick, cloves and ajwain. Don’t grind it finely, do it rough. You want to break it up but not make it like powder.

Add these spices to the boiling water. Let it boil for a couple of minutes and add loose tea (or tea bag). Let it boil for a couple more minutes and then add milk. Let it boil for 1 minute and then take it off the gas.

Grab a teacup, or small glass cup and using a sieve, pour the chai. You’ll get a skin on it, nothing wrong with that, we love it! Have it with some Indian snacks, such as Gajrela or Panjeeri.

Enjoy! Yummy.


Narinder Dhaliwal

Narinder Dhaliwal is mother to Editor-In-Chief, Sharan Dhaliwal. Hailing from a small village in Punjab, she came to London in the 80s and is currently kicking ass in a high paying role for an airline.