Kashmiri chai is a very particular tea with a pink color and a salty taste! It is the traditional drink of Pakistan
Kashmiri chai is a very particular tea with a pink color and a salty taste! It is the traditional drink of Pakistan. Here's how to prepare it
Only true tea enthusiasts and connoisseurs will have heard of Kashimiri Chai, a very original variant which, as the name already implies, comes from the Kashmir region. It is a traditional drink in Pakistan, salty and with a particular color.
This tea is best known for its characteristic color, pink, but also for having a salty taste. A decidedly unusual combination for those accustomed to the more classic teas: black, green, etc. (The 10 most popular tea varieties in the world)
Actually even Kashimiri Chai, or Noon chai, it's a Green tea, but the addition of other ingredients with which it is prepared gives it, in the end, its beautiful pink color and an unmistakable flavor. We are talking about salt and sodium bicarbonate (it is in particular the latter that triggers the chemical reaction that allows the color to be transformed). Finally, the addition of milk makes the pink become even more homogeneous and turns it towards a pastel shade.
La original recipe uses special tea leaves found only in Kashmir, a region where this drink is traditional and is brewed in a copper kettle called a samovar.
How to make Kashmiri Chai
As you can imagine, it is not enough to immerse a sachet in boiling water or boil the tea leaves to prepare this tea. It is a slightly more complicated procedure but all in all easy, you just need to have a moment of time (at least 20 minutes) and more attention.
If you want to try your hand at the preparation you will need:
- 1 liter of water
- 4 teaspoons of Kashmiri Chai leaves (1 teaspoon per 250 ml cup) or alternatively green tea leaves if you do not find the "originals"
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- 500 ml of ice water and ice cubes
- 1 liter of milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 - 4 Cardamom seeds
- Sugar to taste
- Almonds and / or pistachios, crushed for garnish
The first thing to do is to boil the tea leaves for 10-15 minutes until the water is reduced to about half the initial amount. At this point, lower the heat and add the baking soda, the dose of this ingredient must never be increased as an overdose risks giving a bitter aftertaste to the drink.
Continue to boil over medium heat for another 3-4 minutes until the color will change to a dark red / brown. At this point, turn off and strain the tea.
Then fill a jug with 500 ml of ice water (you can also add some ice cubes to make sure it is really very cold). Take a large spoon or ladle and slowly pour the cold water into the tea from above, stirring vigorously for at least 5-10 minutes. This process, known as "paitha lagana”In the Urdu language, is what brings out the pink color of the drink and also helps to create a slight foam on the tea.
At this point add the milk which will also help to give more creaminess to the drink, then the chopped cardamom seeds, a pinch of salt and sugar to taste. Reheat everything until the Kashmiri Chai reaches a boil and then pour into the cup garnishing with chopped nuts.
There are several variations of this tea, there are those who enrich it with star anise or other spices such as cinnamon, for example.
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