Winters are here, full on. If you live in Pakistan, nothing will fight away the cool winter like a plate of pakoras and Kashmiri Chai. This pink colored tea originates from the beautiful Kashmir where it is known as Noon Chai, which literally means salted tea. When Kashmiris moved to Rawalpindi, they adjusted to the taste of the locals and added sugar to the tea which is why you will sometimes hear the locals call it Pindi Chai.
I had to beg my mother to teach me the art of brewing the perfect pink tea and she did. Lucky for you, I am passing on the instructions. If done right, this tea will turn out a luscious tea pink color.
Ideally, you want to make Kashmiri Chai with semi-fermented green tea leaves but I have been told they work fine with plain green tea leaves. Although, I have never tried myself. Also, remember, if your leaves have been left out to oxidize, you will never get the luscious pink color. To make pink tea, you will need:
Makes 6 cups of Kashmiri Chai:
3 cups of cold water
3 cups of milk
2 tsp semi-fermented green tea leaves
a pinch of baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
sugar to taste
seeds from 2 cloves of cardamom, lightly crushed
clotted cream to serve
sliced pistachios or almonds
a ladle, to whip your kahwa
1. Let’s make some kahwa. Start ahead, preferably an hour before. In a pot, mix together 2 cups of cold water, salt, soda and green tea leaves. (I suggest you soak your kahwa before dinner for after dinner tea.)
2. After an hour of soaking your kahwa will be a light yellow golden color. Now, put your tea on medium heat and bring to a boil.
3. Lower heat, add 1/2 cup of cold water to the kahwa. Take a ladle full of kahwa and drop it back in your pot from a height. This will whip your tea and release maximum color. (Remember: With Kashmiri Chai, deeper color means deeper flavor.) Repeat 10-12 times. By this time you should be able to see froth on the kahwa. From the color of this froth, you will be able to judge the color of your tea.
4. Cover pot and boil for 2 mins. Your kahwa should turn a darker color.
5. Open the lid and repeat step 3 and 4 with the remaining 1/2 cup of cold water.
6. After the second boil, your kahwa should be a dark plum color. If in doubt, mix a tbsp of your kahwa and a tbsp of milk to ensure that your tea is pink. If it isn’t add another 1/2 cup of cold water and repeat steps 3-4. In any case, after two boils, your kahwa should be ready.
7. In another, larger pot, mix together, milk and cardamom seeds. Bring to a boil.
8. Into your boiling milk, strain your kahwa and see the magic of pink tea unfold.
9. Boil for a minute and its ready. Serve with clotted cream, sugar and sliced almonds/pistachios.
Sigh. I will now go make myself some Kashmiri Chai, I can almost smell the cardamom.