It is winter time and with dropping temperatures, nothing soothes the body better than a hot cup of Chai that’s spiced up correctly. Add warming spices to your Chai like grated ginger, cloves, pepper and top it up with some aromatic spices such as cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and fennel seeds – just the aroma of Chai being prepared will get you in a winter mood to enjoy a cup with crisp breeze of air outside.
To make this experience even better, you could pair your cup with some of traditional or even more inventive pairings. And if you get it right, or if you’re like me – by the time you finish your cup of Chai, you’d be planning about next cup and what to pair it with J
With so many complex spices as well as preparation methods, Chai could be seen somewhat as wine – there are myriad ways to pair a cup with variety of flavors to compliment or supplement the taste of Chai. But generally – as tradition in India – you’d find hot, and savory snacks paired with morning tea as it is usually had with breakfast. For afternoon tea, usually somewhat lighter, smaller quantity snack, again salty and spicy in nature is commonly found to be paired with Chai.
Here are my favorite pairings with Chai – I’d follow that up with some inventive pairings that I found online – some of them I’ve not tried – but there’s always room for options with different pallets.
Chai and Samosa + (Vada Pav, Paratha, Kachori)
By far, the best pairing with Chai has to be Samosas – these are flaky as well as spicy fried cakes (think of empanadas, but crispier and spicier). The spice and crispy flavor of Samosas (or you could call them Samis) pair excellently well with milky sweet of Chai.
I can generalize this category to be ‘hot, spicy and flaky snack’ – some of other Indian dishes are equally well suited with Chai within same category.
In western India, especially Maharashtra, you’d find Chai paired exclusively with Vada Pav – this pairing is so desirable that it’s one of the highest selling item on Mumbai airport – folks getting back home crave for it so much that they cannot even wait to get home! J
Likewise, Chai and Kachori, or Chai and Paratha are very common and cherished pairings in northern part of India. Leaving you with some pictures showing Chai+Vada Pav as well as Chai + Parathas
Chai with Farsaan
Afternoon Chai is usually paired with crispy and spicy pairings known as ‘Farsaan’. These are very common in Gujraat and Rajasthan, but also are quite well received in other parts of India.
Chai with Sweet Pairings
So far, we’ve talked about savory or spicy pairings with Chai – which is expected given sweet and milky flavor of Chai. However, I personally like few complimentary sweet pairings as well.
You’d be surprised how well some of Indian sweets such as ‘Ladoos’ – Ladoos are sweet ball shaped sweets made with flour, minced dough, sugar (or honey, jiggery) and varying ingredients depending on recipe. You’d find tons of Ladoo recipes in Indian culture – I personally love ‘Methi (Fenugreek) ladoos’ as they have touch of bitterness from Fenugreek that pairs amazingly well with sweetness of Chai. This is also a very healthy snack as Fenugreek is termed to have lot of medicinal benefits.
I will continue the pairing section in next post as well – we will cover additional pairings that are not traditional Indian, but very well suited with Chai.