India is known around the world for its variety of food. From the Dabangg Chole Kulche in Amritsar to Babu Bhaiya ke Vada Pav from Mumbai, most of the India delicacies are famous around the world. Not only the food, the beverages too. The simple tea which we drink at home is savoured around the globe. The tea itself has so many variations in itself, from the salty tea in Jammu to the Masaledar tea in Amdavad, the ingredients might change but the essence of tea remains the same wherever you go. Today I write about the most loved beverage in India, the fantastico Chai and my memories with it – I feel the statement a lot can happen over a cup of tea suits perfectly.
Chai is the most loved hot beverage, from the younger ones to the elder ones everyone enjoy having tea. For many it’s an integral part of their daily routine, their day simply cannot start without a hot cup of tea. This is pretty much the same story in my house too. It has its own charm, be it winter ki sardi or summer ki garmi chai is always relished. It’s own of those few drinks that give the perfect start to your day and the perfect way to end your day and can be prepared in more than one ways, some need milk-only tea, others need a perfect balance of water and tea.
I personally prefer coffee over tea any day but there are times when its the chai that does the magic. One of best moments to enjoy it is while you are travelling in a train. The familiar “Chai bolo, garma garam chai chai…” echoes in the ears amidst the chugging of the train. I literally wait for the chaiwala to arrive. Drinking chai with fellow travellers is different all together, total strangers bonding over a cup of tea and soon turning into friends. It does have some magical element in it. Even the chai from the train tastes different from those served at the platforms, and further the taste varies from place to place. Even the serving style varies place to place. Mostly you will be served in paper / plastic cups unless you are in the north where most places they serve tea in earthen pots called Kullhad. The taste to the chai in kullhad is just out of the world, nothing can match the chai when it’s served in kullhad.
One of the fond memories I had of chai recently was during my visit to the Queen of Hills – Shimla. It was an impromptu plan with no planning whatsoever. We drove from Chandigarh to Shimla, it was the month of December, I remember. Upon returning from Shimla, it suddenly became too cold, so we decided to stop at a local dhaba to have some hot chai. The guy served it in those typical tea glass was fantastico. It was so good that we ordered another glass. It was like having shots of chai ! That was a life savior then, with the chilling winds outside, sipping this hot cup of chai was very soothing and just perfect.
Today we have got a lot of variations in tea, thanks to the health benefits it has. We now have tea of colors – Black, Green and what not. But the original chai has a different charm all together. This was the best and will remain the fantastico chai !