Masala Chai Tiramisu? Follow these innovative masala chai recipes to enjoy the monsoon season

13 June,2024 09:49 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Nascimento Pinto

Masala chai is an emotion and one that many Mumbaikars identify with as they sip on it this monsoon. Indian chefs not only share easy recipes for variations of masala chai with lemongrass, ginger, fennel seeds or rose petals but also encourage you to make a masala chai tiramisu

Masala chai is a staple during the monsoons and Indian chefs say you can not only tweak your recipes but also make something new out of it. Photo Courtesy: Pixabay/Navi Mumbai Marriott Hotel

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At this very moment on a cold rainy morning, Mumbaikars and Indians across the country have coffee or tea simmering in their kitchen. It won't be long before they sip on it in a few minutes while sitting cosy in comfort spaces in their homes. Indians love their beverages and with tea known to be the more popular one among the two, it is a clear favourite to sip on now that the monsoon has started. The beauty of tea is that there are so many different variations that every type has its loyalists.

Interestingly, Godrej Food Trends report released a report for International Tea Day in May, and one of the top trends has shown 73 per cent of experts believe that masala chai and its variants are making a comeback as people explore spiced flavours. While masala chai is a classic, Indian chefs believe you can tweak them to suit your palate depending on your taste. However, there is a lot more that you can do with masala chai. If you are adventurous, it is easy to incorporate the flavours into your favourite desserts too.

With the monsoon here, spoke to Indian chefs and asked them to not only share their variations for the traditional masala chai but also other innovative dishes that people can make from masala chai. They not only share unique recipes of masala chai with ingredients such as lemongrass, ginger, fennel and rose petals that add a zing to it but also others that make you reimagine the flavour of masala chai in a tiramisu!

Masala chai with Lemongrass and ginger
While the classic masala chai has an earthy spice mix that is used in an Indian kitchen, chef Bandu Ugalmugale, executive sous chef at Four Points by Sheraton Vashi in Navi Mumbai adds a twist with not only lemongrass but also ginger. Being a personal favourite, he says you can serve it with biscuits or any of your favourite snack. Interestingly, he has suggested the classic Mumbai snack of crispy onion bhajias.

Chai ka masala 1/2 tsp
Tea powder (chai ki patti) 2 tbsp
Sugar 4 tbsp
Lemongrass (hare chai ki patti) stalks, each cut into 50 mm. pieces 2 leaves
Crushed ginger (adrak) 1/2 tsp
Milk 2 cups

For masala chai:
1. To make masala chai recipe, combine 2 cups of water, tea powder, sugar, lemongrass, ginger and chai masala in a non-stick saucepan and boil on a medium flame for 2 minutes.

2. Add the milk, mix well and bring to boil on a medium flame. When the mixture boils till the brim, reduce the flame to slow to prevent it from spilling out and continue to boil for 4 to 5 minutes, while stirring occasionally if required.

3. Strain immediately using a strainer and discard the tea powder mixture.

4. Serve the masala chai immediately.

Crispy onion bhajia

For the crispy onion bhajia:
Medium sized onions I recommend half red and half brown/white 4 nos
Kashmiri chilli powder or any other chilli powder of choice 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder 1 tsp
Salt 2 tsp
Garlic cloves, grated 3 nos
Ginger, grated 2 pieces
Handful of coriander finely chopped
Gram flour (chickpea flour) 130 gm
Cornflour/Corn starch 25 gm
Water 1 tbsp
Baking powder 1/2 tsp
Chaat masala (optional)
For the chutney:
Coriander 30 gm
Mint (optional) 15 gm
Cashew nuts 8 gm
Garlic cloves 3 nos
Green chillies use 1 or omit for a milder chutney 2 gm
Half lemon juiced
Ice cubes 3 nos
Water 3 tbsp
Chaat masala or salt to season 1 tsp

1. First start by slicing the onions into long strips, then place these into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the chilli powder, cumin powder, turmeric, and salt to the mixture, and then add the gram flour and mix to combine all mixer.
3. Add in the ginger, and coriander, and mix once more. You can also add in the green chilli at this stage if you're using it.
4. Allow the bhajia mix to sit for 20 minutes as the onions will release some liquid to help bind it all together. You can make the chutney during this time if you wish.
5. After 20 minutes, mix the bhajia batter once more and it should now be a lot more cohesive. Add in the baking powder and a tbsp of water and mix once more.
6. Take roughly a tbsp of batter and gently form into a rough round shape in your hands (it will be a little messy and sticky). Then place it directly into 180 degrees oil to fry. Fry in batches to prevent overcrowding and the oil temperature dropping.
7. They will only take 1-2 minutes to fry. Once golden brown, drain and leave aside on a tray lined with a paper towel.
8. Finally sprinkle with chat masala before serving.

Masala Chai Tiramisu
Why just savour masala chai only in a teacup? Rohan Malwankar, executive chef at the newly opened Navi Mumbai Marriott Hotel says you can make a Masala Chai Tiramisu and enjoy it throughout this monsoon. He shares, "You can savour the tantalising fusion of East and West with Masala Chai Tiramisu. It is a symphony of aromatic spices that dances atop layers of velvety mascarpone."

For the masala chai syrup:
Water 1 cup
Black tea bags 2 nos
Green cardamom pods, lightly crushed 4 gms
Whole cloves 2 nos
Cinnamon stick 1 nos
Ground ginger 1/4 tsp
Ground nutmeg 1/4 tsp
Sugar 1/4 cup

For the tiramisu:
Heavy cream 1 cup
Mascarpone cheese 1 cup
Powdered sugar 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Ladyfinger cookies (about 24 cookies) 1 package
Cocoa powder, for dusting


Masala chai syrup:
1. In a saucepan, combine water, black tea bags, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and sugar.
2. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.
3. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes to infuse the flavours.
4. Remove from heat and let the syrup cool completely.
5. Once cooled, strain the syrup to remove the spices and tea bags. Set aside.

Tiramisu assembly:
1. In a mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
2. In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth.
3. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until well combined.
4. Dip each ladyfinger cookie into the masala chai syrup briefly, making sure not to soak them too much.
5. Arrange a layer of dipped ladyfinger cookies in the bottom of a serving dish or individual serving glasses.
6. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture evenly over the ladyfingers.
7. Repeat with another layer of dipped ladyfingers and the remaining mascarpone mixture.
8. Cover and refrigerate the tiramisu for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to allow the flavors to meld and the dessert to set.
9. Before serving, dust the top of the tiramisu with cocoa powder.
10. Serve chilled and enjoy the unique blend of masala chai and tiramisu flavours.

Masala Chai with rose petals and fennel
Just like chef Ugalmule, Nikita Mittal, director of growth at Mittal Teas, says you can tweak your masala chai recipe to not only include ginger, cardamom, cinnamon but also rose petals, fennel seeds and peppercorns to give it a unique flavour. She explains, "Chai is very subjective. The quantity of milk preferred varies from person to person. It's best to serve the tea liquor, milk and sugar separately. Personally, milk should be as little as possible in order to not overshadow the flavour of the tea. Rose and fennel are lesser-known ingredients that can transcend the flavour profile. If you like a smoky note, you may even add star anise to it."

Granular black tea (chai) 2 tbsp
Ginger, grated 1-inch piece
Cardamom, crushed 4 pods
Cinnamon 1 small stick
Rose petals 1 tablespoon (optional)
Fennel seeds 1 teaspoon
Black peppercorns, crushed 5-6 nos
Water 2 cups
Milk 1 cup
Sugar to taste

1. Crush the cardamom pods and black peppercorns using a mortar and pestle. Grate the ginger.
2. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
3. Once the water is boiling, add the grated ginger, crushed cardamom, cinnamon stick, rose petals (if using), fennel seeds, and crushed black peppercorns. Let it simmer for about 3-4 minutes to allow the spices to infuse.
4. Add the granular black tea to the boiling water and let it brew for 2-3 minutes.
5. Pour in the milk and add sugar to taste. Bring the mixture back to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat and let the chai simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
7. Strain the chai into cups using a fine mesh strainer to remove the spices and tea leaves.
8. Serve hot and enjoy your aromatic and flavourful masala chai.

Lemongrass & Mint Masala Chai
Experimenting with the classic masala chai, just like you can add rose petals and fennel, lemongrass and ginger, chef Mohammed Shahnawaz from ITC Grand Central in Parel says you can make a Lemongrass and Mint Masala tea variation too. He explains, "The lively, citrus tones of lemongrass combined with the cooling and relaxing characteristics of mint provide a perfect balance, particularly during the rainy season. I recommend lemongrass and mint masala tea for the monsoon because it not only warms and comforts you on wet days, but it helps with digestion and increases immunity."

Cinnamon 1 stick
Cloves 5 nos
Star anise 2 nos
Water 90 ml
Dry black tea leaves 2 tsp
Lemongrass 3 tsp
Mint Leaves 10 no
Whole fat milk 1 cup
Green cardamom 5 nos
Grated nutmeg
Few strands of saffron
Ginger according to taste

1. To make chai masala, grind cinnamon, cloves, star anise, nutmeg, and saffron into a powder.
2. Boil cardamom in milk.
3. In a separate vessel, boil water, tea leaves, lemon grass, mint leaves, ginger, and honey until all flavours are absorbed. Add the chai masala and boil it again.
4. Strain the mixture and cardamom-infused milk in a serving cup.

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