Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Recipe Files: Mumbai Special Chai!

The other day I was talking to my friend Marie and she was telling me how she tried to make ‘chai’ like the chai guy (chaiwalla) who stands outside our kitchen. When Marie was in India, we would start each day with our “Mumbai special chai’’ and the chai guy became an important part in our daily life. Long chats on the stairs outside the kitchen with our tea glasses were the best part of my day!

Back in France, she experimented to get the exact same flavour and was hugely disappointed. So I decided to have a chat with Vijay, the chai guy, and learn how the cutting chai is properly done.

He wasn’t quite so willing to reveal his addictive recipe. So I started asking him questions about himself and he slowly started warming up. I learnt that he stays in Virar and it takes him almost 2 hours to get to work. He wakes up at 4 am every single day and goes to the gym (if that won’t inspire me to workout, I don’t know what will!) He starts working by 6.30 am and does so till noon. The evening shift starts at 3 and lasts till 8 .
Using 25 liters of milk, 25 liters of water, 5 kilos of sugar and 750 grams of tea powder he churns out 800 cups of chai a day (!).

His magic formula is as follows

Vijay’s Special Chai

Makes 4 cups

Milk 200 ml

Water 200 ml

Sugar 5 tbsp (this is for a very sweet chai, please reduce the sugar if you don’t want it too sweet)

Tea powder 2 tbsp

Ginger 10 g


1. Boil the water and milk for five minutes.

2. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the ginger.

3. Add the tea powder to the milk and water and continue to boil.

4. Now add the sugar and ginger (Vijay likes to boil this concoction for 15 - 20 minutes so you feel the full effect of the tea powder).

5. Strain and pour in to cups.

6. Enjoy your Mumbai special chai with hot vada pav or as I do, with a Hazelnut macaroon!


  1. Love this post....true....people like Vijay make a difference to all our lives in their small ways which we overlook....this post is a reminder to thank them all....Thanks Vijay...I myself love the chai he makes and always drink a cup when I come for class to Le 15 !! : ) : )

  2. Thanks Sanah, he was really excited to see the post :) see you on sunday!

  3. Oh wow going to the gym at 4 am, inspirational. Have just recently started reading your blog, you are doing some really great work... Loved your Raspberry Collection

  4. Pooja.. u r awesome! and doing such great work..inspirational..keep it up girl!

  5. Pooja.. u r awesome! and doing such great work..inspirational..keep it up girl!
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