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Kashmiri Pink Chai (Noon Tea)


Kashmiri Chai is a South Asian hot beverage which is pink in colour. It is milky and sweet with just a touch of savoriness that is achieved by the addition of salt. 


Kashmiri Chai originates from the valley of Kashmir which has this exclusive variety of tea leaves. Also known as noon (salt) chai or gulabi (pink) chai, this tea unlike the others is very fragrant and creamy. Traditionally it is prepared with salt only but over the years people have started adding sugar giving it more of a luxurious taste.

The key to getting that beautiful rosy hue lies in the baking soda and the beating of the 'kehwa'. The more air you incorporate into the 'kehwa' the pinker your tea will get. Some people also make this tea using green tea leaves since Kashmiri tea is not found everywhere as easily. I have heard that it tastes similar but might not give the same pink shade. I plan to try it myself someday, when I do I will update this post with my results.


INGREDIENTS

FOR KEHWA
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 3 tbsp kashmiri tea
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon 
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 green cardamons
  • 2 cups ice-cold water
FOR MILK TEA
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup kehwa
  • 2-3 tsp sugar (optional)
  • crushed almonds & pistachios - as required

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large sauce add the water along with kashmiri tea, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and green cardamom. Bring everything to a boil.
  2. When the boil comes add baking soda and salt. Lower the heat slightly and keep cooking till the water is reduced to half the initial amount which is 2 cups according to this recipe.
  3. When the water is reduced add ice-cold water along with some ice cubes from a height. Then aerate the mixture by using a ladle or another mug and pour around a cup of this tea from a height and keep doing that for the next 10 mins. It translates to 'phaintna' in Urdu which means to beat vigorously.
  4. After 10 mins you will start to see deep red bubbles on the surface of the tea. Turn off the heat and strain the liquid. This 'kehwa' can be stored in the fridge for upto 1 week.
  5. For preparing the milk tea, bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan. Add the sugar and pour some of the kehwa. You can adjust the kehwa and milk ratio according to your taste. Bring the mixture to a boil and turn off the heat. Cover the pan and give 'dam' for 2-3 mins.
  6. Pour in the serving cups and add garnish with some crushed almonds and pistachios.

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