Food, India, Recipes

Making masala chai

June 25, 2011

These days I find it difficult to believe that in the not-so-distant-past I didn’t like tea.

I was a coffee drinker through and through. In fact, I could count on one hand the number of days on which I’d not had a coffee since the age of about eight years old. I even remember my first coffee, free from the Nescafe promo stand on the beach at Terrigal.

But after spending two weeks accompanying some tea-loving English journalists around Australia, I picked up the habit. I still had my daily coffee but soon the tea bag began to outweigh the coffee bean!

And then, sometime during my trip around the world last year, I suspect in Tibet, I managed to kick an almost 20-year caffeine addiction and I stopped drinking coffee.

So by the time I got to India, I was super excited to be able to drink masala chai (spicy tea) as if it were on tap.

Masala chai is India’s national drink – you can buy it on trains, in cafes and on the street. It’s not just tasty, but comforting too. So naturally, when I got back to Sydney I decided I wanted to re-create it and I thought I’d share my recipe with you.

Authentic chai recipe

Makes 1 cup

You can play around with the spices in this recipe and the suggested amounts, or even try crushing them in a mortar and pestle. I just throw them in to the pot whole.


4 – 5 cardamon pods

1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds

a few pinches of ground ginger (or a slice of whole ginger)

3 – 4 black peppercorns

1 or 2 sticks of cinnamon

(One recipe I was given in India suggests adding cloves. Didn’t work for me but might for you. You could also add star anise or nutmeg.)

2 teaspoons of Darjeeling or Ceylon loose-leaf tea

3/4 cup of water + extra for evaporation

1/4 cup of full cream milk

Heat your milk and water in a small pot on the stovetop.

Add the cardamon, fennel seeds, ginger, peppercorns and cinnamon. You might like to cover the pot to get it to boil faster – keep an eye on it though because it will boil over.

Once the mix begins to boil, add the tea. The longer you boil it the stronger it will be. About 5 minutes or slightly longer is ideal.

(It will also be stronger than regular tea no matter what you do because of the boiling process. I don’t advise you have this before bed!)

Let it sit off the heat for a couple of minutes, and then pour into a cup using a tea-strainer.




You Might Also Like


  • Reply Tijmen June 25, 2011 at 3:45 am

    I know a few people that went to India, and they all talked about how they loved the masala chai. I started to get really curious how it would taste like, it would be about time that I tried to make it myself! I also remember my first coffee like 15 years ago, but that was also my last one, don’t like it at all. It’s just tea for me 🙂

    • Reply MeganRTW June 25, 2011 at 11:26 pm

      Let me know if you make it and what you think, Tijmen!

  • Reply Naomi June 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    This looks delicious 🙂 I’m a hardcore tea drinker, and cannot WAIT to go to India and try some street chai!!

    • Reply MeganRTW June 25, 2011 at 11:26 pm

      I can’t wait to go back either, Naomi! What’s your favourite kind of tea?

  • Reply Alouise June 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I love tea, and chai masala. This recipe looks great, thanks for sharing.

    • Reply MeganRTW June 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm

      No worries Alouise, let me know if you give it a go!

  • Reply T-roy June 26, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Damn I was going to write this article to… but you did such a great job on it why bother! 🙂 Your not going to do a “Butter Chicken” recipe anytime soon are you???? lol

    • Reply MeganRTW June 26, 2011 at 12:44 am

      Haha thanks T-Roy! Nope no plans for a butter chicken recipe…if you have one, share share!

  • Reply Jessica June 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    This looks great! I completely get you on becoming a tea convert- I used to think green tea tasted like moldy wood until I had it in China, now it’s my tea of choice! Might need to start making my own chai now though…

    • Reply MeganRTW July 1, 2011 at 12:07 am

      I got really into green tea in China too, Jessica! And hot water – no one drinks cold water there!

  • Reply wendy May 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    The chai turned out to be exactly like New Asian Village serves here in Edmonton ,
    OMG incredible

  • Reply josh June 28, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Tried this and loved it. However, in my opinion, cloves are an essential ingredient in chai tea. Also, if you, for some random reason, find yourself without fennel then star anise can be used as a substitute.

    • Reply MeganRTW July 14, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      Great tips, thanks Josh!

  • Reply Peluca October 14, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I’ve been making something like this for a few years now, and it indeed is delicious! I’ve been using star anise, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and black tea, and sometimes some ginger along with that – going to try it with fennel as soon as I can get my hands on some 🙂
    I used to only drink soda’s and no coffee or tea whatsoever, but since I came along Chai I haven’t been drinking much else xD
    Definitely not something you want to drink before bed indeed, but it’s a wonderful start of your day 🙂

  • Leave a Reply