Two of my closest friends are on a rather wonderful travel adventure at the moment, which means we don’t get to see them for a whole year! As much as we miss them its been amazing to see the photos from their trip and to chat about all they are seeing and doing – the wonders of technology hey?
Ceri is a professional photographer and his work is impressive, at the bottom of this post you will find his social media details – I highly recommend you go check them out!
I asked him and his partner Andora if they would share a snippet of their travels with us and here they are chatting about one of my very favourite drinks: Chai.
One day I will experience it first hand in India!
Chai – a little cup of India
Ceri and I have spent 5 months travelling around India and Southeast Asia; Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Living out of guesthouses, homestays and hostels and not preparing any of our own meals has meant we’ve had plenty of chances to try the local cuisine; we’ve loved some things (fresh fish tikka from Goa, nasi goreng from Indonesia) and loathed others (seafood porridge from Thailand, deep fried scorpion on a stick from Laos) but if we had to choose one favourite it would be a nice, hot, sugary cup of masala chai in India.
India is a world within a country; a place where you can find deserts and oceans, sprawling cities and rice paddies, backwaters and mountain top towns. The diversity of the land, food, culture and people makes it a chaotic and mesmerising place to spend a few months. One thing we found we could depend on amongst the chaos, whichever part of India we visited, was chai. It’s everywhere, it runs through the veins of the country and you only need to take a few steps along any street to find one of the many, many vendors.
During our two month stay in India enjoying a cup of chai (or several) became a daily habit; who can blame us at a cost of between 6 and 10 pence a cup?! The best chai we tasted came from the most unlikely sources; with tuk tuk drivers in roadside shacks built from scrap metal, in paper cups bought through the iron bars of the train window from the chai wallah on the platform, a freebie cup at sunrise when the marketplace of a crumbling city starts coming to life, mixed over a campfire in the desert or with the hotel boss on the rooftop of our guest house in total darkness during a power cut – a ‘chai party’.
The masala mix varied slightly between different vendors but usually included cinnamon, ginger and cardamom. Sometimes we could also pick out hints of nutmeg and cloves. Although the masala mix varied, the technique for making the tea was almost always the same. The milk would be permanently simmering in a metal pot which had an impressive layer of burnt crust at the bottom. This, teamed with loose leaf tea, a homemade masala spice mix and a measure of sugar that made us wince, made the perfect little pick me up drink. In most cases, the spice mix and loose leaf tea were strained out before drinking but we also drank a few cups trying to avoid a thick layer of sediment at the bottom.
Since leaving India we’ve tried to find a cup of chai that matches up but so far we’ve not been able to find any that compare. Our next stop is New Zealand which means a slim chance of chai – looks like we’ll have to start hunting for a new favourite!
Bye for now!
Ceri and Andora