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Meet Desi Gal: A woman with a collection of quick recipes that require very little effort with all the flavors of mom’s cooking. Owning a fast food Indian restaurant, she has realized how many of us do not have time to cook, but she loves to see the reaction on her customers’ faces when she tells them they can make a “cheat” version of her meals in as little as 7-10 minutes!

Masala Chai is a must-have in every Indian household. (Now also frequently found on almost every coffee house menu across America, it is sometimes known as a “Chai Latte.”) To this day, my parents still have several cups a day, and I have picked up on this traditional addictive habit. Of course, growing up I was spoiled as I woke up to a freshly brewed cup every morning. Unfortunately, reality set in when I got married, and I had to learn to do it on my own. But no matter what — I just couldn’t get the taste or technique right.

As a newlywed, I didn’t know my way around the kitchen, let alone how to make masala chai! I always called Mom for help, and she would always answer in the same flustered tone.

“What are your in laws going to think of me? That I couldn’t even teach you how to make a cup of masala chai? Beta, it so easy! Boil water, add a spoon of black loose tea, a pinch of chai masala and sugar to taste. If you want an even better taste, you can freshly grind your own masala with ginger, cardamom….”

I remember zoning out while she spoke. Back then, I couldn’t picture myself grinding my own spices as I do now. For some reason our moms never measured any of the spices, and could freehand any recipe and get it right to perfection — and they expect us to do the same.

Okay, I had to come clean.

After confessing to my mother-in-law that I couldn’t make masala chai, she — with no judgment — helped me to learn the perfect, easy recipe that tastes just like Mom’s but without grinding any spices. Well, that wasn’t so bad!

If you’re tired of those sad excuses for chai from coffee shops, you’re in luck: This masala chai recipe couldn’t be simpler — and you will love the delicious, authentic taste.

Prep Time: 1 minute

Brewing Time: 7 minutes

Servings: 1 cup (Ingredients can be doubled to make two cups)

Masala Chai Ingredients:

  • 1/4 tsp store-bought chai masala
  • 1 Tbsp of loose black tea (I prefer Black Label)
  • 1 cup of water
  • Sugar, sugar substitute or agave to-taste — 1 tsp usually works well  (I prefer agave)
  • 1/4 cup of milk (I prefer whole milk, but low-fat will work fine too)

The Technique:

  1. Add water to a saucepan with loose black tea, chai masala and sugar
  2. Bring to a full boil for a minute
  3. Add milk
  4. Bring back to a boil and lower heat (Be careful because the tea can overflow quickly!)
  5. Repeat previous step three times to really blend the flavors
  6. Strain the tea into a cup and press with a spoon to get all the liquid
  7. Enjoy your homemade masala chai!

Optional Additions

You can add one of the following aromatics to your masala chai while boiling to give it additional flavors. These are our favorites (Experiment with the combinations, and you’ll find your favorite!):

  • 3 one-inch pieces of lemongrass
  • 1 sprig of mint
  • 1/4 tsp of grated ginger root
  • 1/4 tsp of fennel seeds (Our special secret ingredient that goes into the masala chai at the restaurant!)

If it is a hot summer day, but still need your caffeine intake make an easy iced masala chai. We sell over a hundred cups of this a day, and it is so easy to make. All you do is pour your hot masala chai over a glass full of ice and stir. It will be a refreshing and decadent at the same time!

Next time Mom comes over, make her a cup of homemade chai, and she will be impressed with how perfect it tastes.

If you don’t have a local Indian grocer, you can find chai masala of these ingredients at your local Whole Foods or Trader Joes.

Happy Eating,

Desi Gal

This story originally appeared on Saffluence.