Friday, April 27, 2007

Masala Chai (Masala Tea)

If you've never had your Chai 'cutting' style (or a strong, sweet coffee), chances are you weren't very loved by your Puneri friends. In all my days spent at Vaishali (which would probably be each day I was a student at Fergusson and most days after that) I never had the good fortune of having an entire cup of tea. Every time the waiter brought you your cup of tea, chances are that you'd have at least 2 empty glasses (one of them probably cracked) shoved right next to your cup. Just so you could 'cut' the chai by two. Chai never tastes as sweet in a styrofoam cup at Starbucks or even your own kitchen in New York City. Chai can only be enjoyed when one cup is divided into as many parts as there are people at the table. May there always be more people at your table than cups of Chai

1 cup water
2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp black Indian tea (preferably orange pekoe)
1/2 inch cube of ginger (crushed)
3-4 whole cardamoms (crushed) or 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
2 cloves
A small piece of cinnamon
Pinch of black pepper
3-4 pistils of saffron

In a pot start boiling the water and add ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and pepper.
When the water comes to a boil, add the sugar.
Wait until the sugar dissolves.
After the sugar dissolves, add tea leaves and allow to boil for 20 seconds.
Remove from the stove and cover with a lid.
Allow the tea to seep for a minute or two.
Pour tea in a cup to 3/4 the cup.
Top the rest with whole milk.
Add saffron and stir.

Enjoy with Nice Time or Glucose-D biscuits.

Batata Bhajji (Aloo Pakora)

One of my fondest memories of Pune during the monsoons was driving to the top of Sinhagad on a rainy day. Usually, the rain would clear by the time you reached the fort only to be replaced by thick fog. Quite the romantic destination for young couples still living with their parents. The other attraction at Sinhagad are the hot bhajjias and taak (fresh buttermilk in earthen pots) made by people living is small huts at the base of the fort. For some reason this combination seems extremely delicious at the pinnacle (not to be confused with Pinnacle at Chandani Chowk) then it does at sea level.

Bhajjias are one of the most popular snacks in Pune and a must 4:00 p.m. Especially with your Kinetic parked under a Gulmohar, a 'cutting' chai and a cream roll. Besides they're extremely easy to make.

Here’s what you need.

1 Potato, sliced.
1 cup besan (chick pea flour)
1 cup Water
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
Pinch of baking soda
Salt to taste.
Oil for frying

Mix besan, cumin, chilli. turmeric, soda and salt in a bowl
Add water slowly and stir the mixture as you do.
Add water till water turns to a runny paste.

Heat the oil in a wok. Turn flame to medium heat once oil is hot.
Dip a slice of potato in the besan mixture till it is completely coated and fry the potato.
Be careful not to over crowd the wok. You can put 5-6 bhajjias in at a time.

Serve with tamarind & date or mint chutney