Irani Chai is a popular beverage that has captured the hearts of tea lovers across India. But what exactly is Irani Chai, and how did it find its way to the shores of this diverse country? Let’s have a look into the origins and journey of this delightful tea.
Originating in Iran, Irani Chai, also known as Persian Tea, has a rich history that dates back several centuries. It was introduced to India by Persian immigrants who settled in cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata during the 19th century. These immigrants brought with them not just their culture and language but also their love for tea.
Irani Chai is distinct from other types of tea due to its unique brewing process. Traditionally, it is prepared by boiling a mixture of water and tea leaves in a large vessel known as a samovar. This method allows the tea to simmer, resulting in a strong and flavorful brew. The tea is then mixed with milk and infused with aromatic spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, giving it a distinctive taste that sets it apart from regular Indian chai.
One of the key reasons why Irani Chai gained popularity in India is its association with the iconic Irani cafes. These cafes, which Persian immigrants established, became cultural hubs where people from all walks of life would gather to savour a hot cup of Irani Chai along with delicious bakery treats like Osmania biscuits and Irani samosas. The ambience of these cafes, with their rustic charm and old-world charm, added to the allure of the tea.
Over the years, Irani Chai has become an integral part of the culinary landscape in cities like Hyderabad, where it is often enjoyed alongside a plate of flavorful biryani. The tea has also found its way into the homes of many tea enthusiasts who have developed a fondness for its unique taste and aroma. Irani Chai has even made its mark in the world of street food, with roadside vendors and tea stalls offering this refreshing beverage to passersby.
The popularity of Irani Chai has also transcended regional boundaries, spreading to other parts of India. Today, you can find Irani Chai being served in various cafes and restaurants across the country, catering to the growing demand for this delightful beverage. Its distinct flavour and cultural significance have made it a favourite among tea connoisseurs and those seeking a taste of history.
How to Make Irani Chai at Home:
While it may seem like a complex drink to recreate, making Irani Chai at home is actually quite simple.
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp loose-leaf black tea
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2-3 green cardamom pods
- 2-3 cloves
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- Sugar, to taste
Step 1: Boil the Water
Begin by bringing the water to a boil in a saucepan. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, add the loose-leaf black tea. Allow the tea to steep for a few minutes, allowing the flavours to infuse into the water.
Step 2: Add the Spices
While the tea is steeping, crush the green cardamom pods, cloves, and cinnamon sticks slightly to release their flavour. Add these spices to the boiling tea and let them simmer together for a few minutes. The aromatic blend of spices is what gives Irani Chai its unique taste and fragrance.
Step 3: Add the Milk
After the spices have simmered in the tea, it’s time to add the milk. Pour the whole milk into the saucepan and stir gently to combine it with the tea. Allow the mixture to come to a gentle boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for another 5-7 minutes, ensuring that the tea does not boil over.
Step 4: Sweeten to Taste
Irani Chai is typically served with a hint of sweetness. Add sugar to taste and stir until it dissolves completely. Start with a small amount of sugar and adjust according to your preference. Remember that the sweetness should complement the flavours of the tea and not overpower them.
Step 5: Strain and Serve
Once the tea has simmered to perfection, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the tea leaves and spices. This will ensure a smooth and creamy texture. Pour the hot Irani Chai into teacups or glasses and serve immediately.
- For an extra creamy texture, you can substitute half of the whole milk with heavy cream.
- If you prefer a stronger tea flavour, you can increase the number of black tea leaves.
- Experiment with different spices like ginger or nutmeg to add your twist to the traditional recipe.
- Irani Chai is often enjoyed with biscuits or cookies, so feel free to pair it with your favourite snacks.
In conclusion, Irani Chai has become more than just a beverage in India. It symbolizes the fusion of cultures, the warmth of shared conversations, and the love for a good cup of tea. There are many Irani Chai Cafes across India where you will get a chance to try Irani chai with bun maska. With the recipe shared above, you can also make a cup of irani chai at home. So, the next time you sip on a steaming cup of Irani Chai, remember the stories it carries and the bond it creates between people from different walks of life.