Saturday, March 28, 2009

Just my cup of tea

"Looks like we're out of sugar." I told my mom-in-law.

Wait a minute... we're out of sugar?? I asked myself. And it was a surprising fact because since I can remember, we have never been out of sugar. And then I figured it out -- I usually don't put sugar in anything, and that's why it seems like it lasts forever. But since the in-laws are here, we have all been drinking copious amounts of tea and that's why we are out of sugar. I love it. I love the idea that we're actually out of sugar. I love the idea that we have a use for sugar. I love the whole 'ghar par chai banti hai' idea. Strange, considering that I'm not even a fan of tea. Sometimes I prefer just making it to drinking it. But the whole concept of chai feels good. Feels hospitable, cosy, warm. Homely.

And the smell of masala tea is just so heavenly. More than the taste itself, the smell is therapeutic. I like to boil the cardamom and the cinnamon and the bay leaves with the tea when making masala tea. None of that instant masala tea powder nonsense for me. In fact, to the annoyance of some of my Singaporean friends, I say, "This is masala tea? Chheh! You should come home for real masala tea." And so it's absolutely great that the in-laws love my masala tea. Actually my Dad-in-law has a very strict policy on my masala tea. It's called 'Never say no'. All I have to say is "Chai?" Any time of the day. Any day of the week. I love it. There's nothing like sitting down, sipping tea and chatting with family. Throw in pakoras if it's raining and you've got a party going.

When I was a kid, Mom used to have a cup of tea every morning. In fact, she couldn't function without it. Dad, on the other hand, is literally a 'tea-totaller'. He used to drink a glass of milk every day with my sister and me (of course, in my case, a lot of it fed the plants, but that's a whole other story). In fact, once Mom was away, and my Dad lacked the inclination and skills to make lunch, and so had 2 litres of milk. For lunch. Yup, that's my Dad.

And so, since our childhood, Dad has been telling my sister and me of the evil addiction that tea is. Strange, considering my sister drinks tea every day. In fact, my sister is so virgo about her chai that I don't even dare to make her a cup because in the world of virgos, putting 2 nanolitres of milk less, or boiling it for 2 nanoseconds more, or not covering it for exactly 13.2 seconds before serving it 'ruins the tea'. Apparently. Too stressful I say. Make your own. And she does.

I'm not too sure if Dad knows she has crossed over to the dark side though. He still warns me about tea over the phone all the time. In fact, if you were to listen to one of my phone conversations with Dad, you'd think my Mom was a hard-core drug addict.

Dad - She's addicted, you know. There's nothing I can do.
Me - Dad, please...
Dad - No seriously. She tried to give it up, but she started having... what do you call it??
Me (wearily) - Withdrawal symptoms...
Dad - Yes yes! Withdrawal symptoms! And then she went right back. It's an evil addiction.
Me - Sigh...
Dad - Wait, you don't have tea at all, do you?
Me (pausing to sip my tea) - Not at all, Dad.

Well, that's kind of true. Tea only features in my home menu when parents or in-laws are here. Viv and I don't drink tea, so it's nice to have someone to make it for. The best part is that since we moved into the new house, we have reserved a room for the parents. The idea is to have each set visit us by rotation and stay with us for a couple of months each year. And so I know that there will be free flow of 'ghar ki chai' all year round.

It's a comforting thought.

Chai ho!


Sanket said...

Yay, GOLD!!

I am also a huge tea fan (addict if you will). My day doesn't begin without a cup of tea. Blame it on my parents, who are even bigger addicts than me!

Anonymous said...

Chai ho!
Even my parents are huge addicts - coffee and tea both. Especially my dad. He can't function without his morning coffee and evening tea. I don't have milk so no issues. But I sure love the tea-time biscuits :)
Well, err Silver!

Dewdrop said...


Dewdrop said...

Love the homely feeling that chai and baarish ke din pakoras bring in... in fact, its so true... there are so many teeny-tiny things that go in to make a house a home and for us, chai is way more Indian that coffee!

Chai Ho Jaaye then... :)

Koi Pahailee said...

hey post some pics of your new home

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

Here in the US folks go to a starbucks and get a "chai latte" or "chai tea". you have no idea how that grates my ears. chai tea? what you mean? tea tea? nonsense

I loved those curtains you made..rather, i loved the fact that you made those curtains! :) Couldn't comment then but remembered seeing the above comment

Suma said...

i just LOVE this post....chai does have that homnely feeling attached to it...funnily i started drinking tea quite late but now am a confirmed addict!

Ramesh said...

If you don't drink tea then are youa doodh peetha bachcha ?!!:)

Canary said...

Please write something about coffee next, coz i mad about that sinful potion!

mythalez said...

totally agree with your dad

tea, coffee, chai, vai .. are the evil potions of the world .. slowly taking over the world with their aromas and what not!

appu said...

Exactly. Homely is the right word for chai and the snacks. One realizes that all the more living alone away from home.

Swathy said...

chai pe high!!though I am not a chai person..reading this post is making me want to try some..
recipe pls... :P

Krishna Shankar said...

Great post, one wants to drink chai after reading it. I loved the way you described boiling cardamom (I actually could smell it!) and the born perfectionist 'Virgo'(Coz I am)

Abhishek Khanna said...

m another tea addict!

i liked the label - phir bhi dil hai hindustani

Inder said...

do the in-laws not prefer coffee (kapi) to tea? somebody said that tamils prefer coffee. could be one of those generalizations.. my parents like tea. i like coffee because tea doesn't keep me awake at office anymore.

Whattteverrrr ! said...

Hey sayesha, would appreciate your resipe for masala chai I am a big chai fan...

rt said...

Couldnt agree more on the essenciality of Chai in the existence of Human Beings- even i have tea only at office ...and it really sounds great to hear or say-"ghar mein chai banti hai" - Chai ho!!

rt said...

Couldnt agree more on the essenciality of Chai in the existence of Human Beings- even i have tea only at office ...and it really sounds great to hear or say-"ghar mein chai banti hai" - Chai ho!!

shub said...

sudhar gayee hai tu bachii! :D

CM-Chap said...

Ah now you made me desperate for a masala chai... But whn I thnk that I myself hv to make & drink it... Nope, I SKIP :(

Urv said...

You don't drink tea :0

Viv doesn't drink tea :0

Your dad doesn't drink tea :0

Your mom is a tea addict :) Same pinch

I gave up milk and started tea when I was about 2 yrs old :P ab toh I am a chai ki tanki :P Kabhi bhi, kahi bhi, kaisi bhi (:() kitni bhi chai pee jaate hai hum..

Padma said...

I was a coffee addict till a few years ago and after many unsuccessful attempts, finally I did succeed in getting over the addiction. Now I drink tea or coffee only to enjoy the drink once in a while and not because I need it. I enjoy tea only when there is somebody to drink with me. If nobody is there, then I wait for my servant maid to come so that I can make for both of us. When my daughter comes home for the holidays, I ask her "Do you want to have some tea" and invariably she would say "Yes" and after enjoying the drink together, I would advise her not to drink it regularly!! Whatever said and done, tea is unique. You can make it hot or cold, you can enjoy it in different flavours and undoubtedly it brings people close!!

Ek cup chai Ho Jai!!Please!!

VIDYA said...

Omg....Padma....I'm a kindred soul

I was a coffee addict too.Eventually I outgrew that,I rebounded with horlicks for a while,and now I'm with chai!

Chai ho indeed :)

n.aka.zephyr said...

My mom is very picky abut the amount of milk in her tea and my best friend can't function without her tea... Guess their sunsign? Virgo! :D

Sayesha said...

Hahaha! Yeah, let's just blame the parents yeah? :D

Tea-time biscuits... I can only think of Good Day! :D

Totally agree! :)

#Koi Pahailee,
Hehehe! My sister has also been bugging me about it! :P

#Ipanema Girl,
//chai tea? what you mean? tea tea? nonsense

Hahahaha! I remember the frustration when I first saw chai tea on their menu! :P

//I loved those curtains you made..rather, i loved the fact that you made those curtains! :)

Thank you! They are my pride and joy! Next step is to do up a couple of paintings. :)

Thank you. :)

Uhhhh... okay! :)

Hahahaha! I hate coffeeeeeee! :P


Totally agree. :(

Chai pe high! Hahaha! Darn that would have made a better title than mine! :P

Okay here's the recipe (makes 2):

1. Boil 2 cups of water.
2. Add milk or milk powder (I used two flat tablespoons of milk powder per cup).
3. Add 6 crushed cardamoms, a small piece of cinnamon and one bay leaf.
4. Let it boil for a while till you almost faint of the aroma :P
5. Add sugar (yeah I add the sugar before the tea).
6. Add tea leaves (or a tea bag per cup) and continue boiling till you see the exact colour you want.
7. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan for 2-3 minutes.
8. Serve. :)
9. Tell me how it went. :P

Thanks. :)

Thanks. :)

They drink both tea and coffee but prefer tea (when I make it! Muahaha!) :)

See my reply to Swathy, recipe's there. :)

Chai ho! :D

Abbe I still don't drink it! I just like to make it! :D

Hahahaha! :D

Same pinch! :D

//I gave up milk and started tea when I was about 2 yrs old :P

Hahahahahahaha! :D

Finally you commented on this one! :D


Hahahaha! Virgos, eh? ;)