Recipe: Masala Chai

Masala chai, there is nothing like it. It’s thick, aromatic, intoxicatingly sweet and packs a punch. My sister, Sammy, loves really strong tea. She always complains about how weak I make tea in England, so when she was visiting us, I had to take her to meet a chai wallah. I am fond of a “weak” cuppa, but I love strong chai from the roadside now and then.

garam chai

A chai wallah is someone who makes masala chai for a living, for a couple of rupees a glass (yes, tea in tiny glasses). They can be found almost everywhere; standing over huge cauldrons of bubbling tea they’ve been brewing for hours, pouring it from great highs with long ladles. I think even Sammy was surprised how strong it was!

There is no definitive method to make masala chai. I have tried to make it many ways, and the following way is the one which works for me. If you are looking for a subtle and comforting masala chai,  give this one a go…

cloves cardamon ginger

You will need:

  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ milk
  • 2 tsp loose tea leaves
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 pinch of freshly grated ginger
  • 2 small tea cups
  • 1 tea strainer


  1. Crush the cloves and cardamom with a rolling-pin.
  2. Pull the cardamom pods apart, releasing the seeds, and the snap the stem of the cloves.masala-chai-2
  3. Add the crushed spices and sugar to the milk and water and simmer for five minutes
  4. Add the tea leaves and grated ginger and simmer for a further two minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and let the chai stand for two minutes, allowing the flavours to permeate.
  6. Strain and enjoy!

Some people add cinnamon to their chai, but clove and cinnamon taste really similar to me making that earthy warmth too overpowering if combined. Black pepper is another common addition, but fresh ginger makes it peppery enough for my taste. Masala chai from a wallah is great for early mornings and road trips, but I couldn’t handle it everyday. I love my calmer version for daily drinking.


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22 thoughts on “Recipe: Masala Chai

  1. One of my favourite memories of travelling around India was drinking this lovely, warming spicy drink…especially early in the mornings when it was cold and misty (we were there in winter). Good times!


  2. Masala chai is possibly my favourite thing about going to India, no other place in the world can make it the same way. I don’t like clove, so I leave that out. I love ginger. But it’s definitely strong, sometimes somehow stronger than coffee.


    • I don’t normally like clove either, but I read on Bibi’s blog ( that she uses cardamom and clove in hers. So I tried throwing in a clove with the tea leaves at the end, and I liked it! It wasn’t too strong that way…just adds a hint of warmth.


  3. I always drink two in a row – one is not enough! And I always prefer it in a glass rather than in a plastic/paper cup because it doesn’t feel good to throw it away 10 minutes later and add to India’s enormous amount of landfill. At least they’re tiny cups that are being thrown away – think of how much waste goes into a take-away coffee cup in countries such as none (Australia)!


    • Australia has a recycling system everyone has a bin outside for recycling as well as rubbish and I’d say in my opinion here we do a lot more to reduce waste than India and we have an anti littering policy here where as India doesn’t .


      • India produces far less household waste than most western countries though. I’m not saying the trash in the streets isn’t an issue in itself, but as with many Indian issues you can find the same thing going on at home too, only moreso, and better hidden.


  4. Yum! I’ll have to try your version! I typically get over excited and put in too much of everything. We really miss the chai wallahs perfection of ginger masala chai!


  5. In masala chai i can find every spices i love. Actually i can’t live without cloes, ginger, cardamon, cinnamon so indian chai is always perfect for me! 🙂


  6. As I was reading this the Chai Wallah just came and delivered chai to our office. This substance is the elixir of life! I’m sure I drink too much of it and I totally love it!
    My partner is the self-proclaimed ‘god of tea’ and it is a big joke in our household. If I make him a cup not to his satisfaction I get a black mark in the tea book and he goes and re-makes it. He makes the chai most of the time as he is a connoisseur (read fussy and annoying!) and it has to be done his way.
    Sadly he would’t drink your recipe as he doesn’t like to add cloves and likes to add the ingredients in a different order (apparently it tastes wrong if you do it in the wrong order). He also has a technique where he lets the mixture boil and then remove from heat before it boils over five times, no more, no less- apparently this adds to the taste.


  7. There is Chai Masala powder available in market. it’s okay. But only use if you don’t have ingredients or you’re lazy 😀😀


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