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A tea cup filled with Kashmiri Pink Chai.
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5 from 4 votes

Kashmiri Chai

Kashmiri Chai or Noon chai is a hot tea beverage originating from the Kashmir Valley. Made with green tea leaves, this pink chai has a rich and creamy flavor with a distinctive rosy pink color that is a result of baking soda and a special aeration technique.
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time47 mins
Course: Chai, Drinks, Tea
Cuisine: Pakistani
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 150kcal
Author: Kiran

Ingredients

Kashmiri Chai Kahwa (Tea Concentrate)

  • 1 litre water
  • 4 teaspoons Kashmiri Chai leaves see note 1
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 500 ml ice-cold water

Kashmiri Chai

  • 1 litre milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 - 4 Cardamom Pods (Elaichi) seeds removed and crushed in mortar pestle
  • Sugar to taste
  • Almonds, crushed to garnish
  • Pistachios, crushed to garnish

Instructions

Making the Kashmiri Chai Kahwa (Tea Concentrate)

  • Heat 1 litre water in a large & wide sauce pan. Once it reaches a boil, add 4 teaspoons of Kashmiri chai leaves. Make sure to use a medium - large saucepan.
  • Turn the heat to medium, and let the mixture boil for 10-15 minutes till it reduces to about half the initial amount. This usually takes 10 minutes if you are boiling one litre of water but can take longer if making a larger quantity. The initial mark at the edge of the pan can be used as an indicator.
  • Turn heat to low and add baking soda. The soda will bubble up and there will be a hint of pink around the edges. This is what contributes to the pink hue in Kashmiri Pink Chai. Too much baking soda can result in a bitter after taste so be careful when adding.
  • Cook this mixture on medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes and it will turn into a dark brown shade with hints of red. Turn off the heat, and strain the Kashmiri Chai leaves.
  • At this stage, cold water is added to the tea mixture while the tea mixture is aerated. This step is known as ‘phaita lagana’ in Urdu, and is similar to how Malaysia teh terik is made. It means to pour and re-pour the tea from a height. It can be done with a ladle, a mug or by using two pots. This will aerate the tea creating a frothy layer on the chai. As you keep aerating the tea, you will notice the color of the chai mixture changing to a dark-reddish brown. The traditional method of doing this aeration can take 10 - 15 minutes easily, but my quick and easy method cuts this time to less than a minute!
  • Quick and easy method: Use a commonly found kitchen appliance to mechanically do the tea aeration instead of doing it by hand. Such as an electric hand whisk (my preferred method), a hand held milk frother, or an immersion blender. Strain out the tea leaves. Add ice cold water 1 – 2 cups at a time and turn the appliance on for a few seconds. Repeat till the tea concentrate changes into a dark-reddish brown color and there’s a frothy layer on top.
    It's also possible to use a regular wire whisk - still requires muscle but easier than using a ladle.
    The handles of an electric whisk on a pot filled with Kashmiri Chai Kahwa.
  • Traditional method: Take a large spoon or soup ladle and stir the tea mixture by pouring and re-pouring it from a height. Pour and re-pour using one hand and add ice-cold water slowly from the other hand. Continue doing this for at least 10 - 15 minutes as a light layer of froth forms on the chai, while the concentrate changes to a reddish brown colour.
  • At this stage, the kahwa for the Kashmiri Chai is ready and can be poured in a jug or a glass bottle and kept in the fridge for upto 2 weeks. Based on the quantity in the recipe you should have around 1 litre of kahwa.
    Two tea cups, a glass bottle filled with Kashmiri chai kahwa, and a milk jug.
  • Whether you use the traditional method or the quick and easy method, make sure you use a big saucepan. The aeration technique will cause a bit of splatter.

Making the Kashmiri Chai

  • Remove the cardamom pods, and use a mortar and pestle to roughly crush the cardamom seeds.
  • Heat the desired amount of Kashmiri Chai kahwa in a saucepan. My preferred ratio is 1:1 so for every 1 cup of kahwa, I add a cup of full fat milk. If you prefer it creamier than you can add more milk and if you find the milk version to be too heavy then you can add more kahwa.
  • Add crushed cardamom seeds, ¼ teaspoon of salt and sugar (if using). Bring to boil. Once it comes to boil, lower heat to simmer and cook for at least 15-20 minutes. If you are making a larger quantity then keep on simmer for longer. Keep an eye on the tea to make sure it doesn’t boil over, and if necessary add more milk. 
  • Taste and adjust salt and sugar content if required. If you want it creamier add a bit more milk and if you think it is too creamy then add a bit more kahwa. Pour into tea cups and add crushed almonds and pistachios for garnish.

Notes

  1. A note on Kashmiri Chai leaves: If you are abroad, Kashmiri Chai leaves can be found at South Asian grocery stores or online. Look for a store that specializes in Pakistani grocery items. Kashmiri chai is a winter beverage so the leaves are more easily found in winters versus the rest of the year. If you can’t find them, you can substitute with regular green tea leaves. But the flavor and color can vary. Here are a couple of Kashmiri Chai brands I have used:
    • Vital – this is a brand I have used in Australia, and it’s good. It’s manufactured by Vital Industries and is sometimes labelled Eastern.
    • Tapal Gulbahar – I find this brand temperamental. It can turn out amazing, and it can turn out average. It is the most common brand available at Pakistani and Indian grocery stores so if you can’t find anything, buy this.
    • Food Net Hi-Sun – I have used this brand in Pakistan, and I have also seen this brand in Australia. It’s also good.
  2. Things to keep in mind when doing aeration
    • Don’t add ice cubes when using a kitchen appliances. The ice cubes will hit the blades and cause a mess.
    • Make sure to strain out the tea leaves, and then aerate. Otherwise, the tea leaves disintegrate into small pieces, becoming difficult to strain and turning the kahwa a muddy dark brown.
  3. Storage instructions: The kahwa can be kept in the fridge for upto two weeks. I usually make a big batch and keep it in glass bottles in the fridge. 
  4. A note on salt in Kashmiri Chai: Authentic Kashmiri chai (also known as noon chai or salt tea) is served with salt. You can skip the salt if you want, but I find adding the salt enhances the flavor of the tea and provides a lovely contrast to the richness of the tea. 

Nutrition

Calories: 150kcal
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