My cup runneth over!

Amrita Prasad
Thursday, 2 August 2018

Add the smoky flavour of tandoor to your regular chai and voila! — you get a perfect, novel monsoon treat.

Tandoori Roti or Tandoori Chicken don’t need an introduction. But Tandoori Chai needs one. Yes you heard it right, Tandoori Chai is the latest fad among tea lovers, and many Indians are finding comfort and warmth in this humble beverage. In an era when the culinary world is undergoing a huge transformation and experimentations are bringing about astonishing twists to what you eat and drink, Tandoori Chai is a perfect addition to the novelties. A perfect marriage of your regular chai and the smoky flavour of tandoor, Tandoori Chai is a must try.   

This weekend, during one of our short trips to Mulshi (let us tell you that the weather and natural beauty of Mulshi offers a perfect setting for a chai treat), we were pleasantly surprised by the huge number of stalls selling Tandoori Chai in the area. While it drizzled, making this favourite weekend hotspot more chilly, tourist cars formed serpentine queues near the stalls with the passengers waiting for their turn to savour Tandoori Chai. 

It was amusing to see how people didn’t hesitate to ask for a second helping. Although it wasn’t the first time we were noticing stalls serving Tandoori Chai as Pune has dozens of Tandoori Chai outlets, but watching the crowd sip this tempting drink from kulhads (clay pots) intrigued us to step out of our cars and find out the recipe and technique behind this drink.  

From far you can get the aroma of the tea and the oven baked earthen pot in which the drink is served. We somehow managed to wiggle through the crowd and placed our order. While talking to Swapnil Shinde, owner of one of the tea stalls, Tea Destination, we asked about this sudden surge in demand for Tandoori Chai. Shinde, who was busy with customers, said, “Food and drinks have a unique taste when prepared in earthen pots. Back in the day, people prepared meals in earthen pots on chulhas. It not only had a different taste but health benefits too. Earlier, women boiled milk in earthen pots and that made the milk thicker and delicious and more suitable for setting yoghurt. Today, once again people are going back to their roots and appreciating things like tea prepared in the ancient way and served in kulhads.” Shinde added that the tea is served with biscuits, Bun Maska and Khari. 

Although he was busy and initially reluctant to share the recipe with us, he budged later. He said that he first roasts kulhads in a pre-heated tandoor and then pours semi-cooked tea. “The kulhads in the tandoor get heated and then the tea boils and bubbles over. It is because of the extreme heat, this unique concoction gets the smoky flavour,” explained Shinde while serving us kulhads of steaming chai placed in brass bowls to save our hands from getting burnt. 

The taste was unique and made us crave for more. While waiting for another round,  Shinde explained that to make Tandoori Chai, he uses milk, water, tea leaves, sugar, chai masala and kulhads. However for additional flavour he uses lemon grass, and mint leaves or elaichi. 
Hello friends, time to take a sip! 

While Mulshi offers a different charm of enjoying Tandoori Chai, tea lovers in Pune can enjoy this unique concoction in different areas like: 
World of Tea: Tulsi Baug, 9 am-8.30 pm. 
Hotel Shree Datta Tandoor Chai: Kothrud, 5.30 am-9.35 pm.
Chai La: Kharadi, 9 am-3 pm and 4-11 pm.
Shalom Tandoori Tea Places: Balewadi, 7 am-7 pm. 

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