For someone embarking on a vegan diet, milk is one of the easiest things to replace, especially with the widespread popularity of soy milk and recently other non dairy milks. Even my parents, who live in the suburbs of Chennai in India have easy access to soy milk in their local supermarket. It took a while for me to get used to soy milk coffee (I make my coffee by mixing instant coffee and sugar with a glass of hot soy milk).
However, the one thing I never got right is the masala chai. The spicy, ginger-y, cardomom-y goodness that many Indians love to drink during the day has evaded me for a long time. My friends here in the bay area love and swear by the creamy concoction where they boil milk and water with loose tea and then spice it up with chai masala, ginger, cardamom and what not. Its hard for many people to imagine a day without chai and dont think a vegan version is possible. This masala chai is very unlike the chai tea latte that one gets in Starbucks and the like, which has a very different spice mix (I taste a lot of cinnamom in the American chai, while ginger and cardamom dominate the Indian version)
When I attended the World Veg Fest on October 2nd, I returned with a strong glimmer of hope after having tasted a really delicious vegan masala chai handed out by one of the stalls there. It was made with soy milk and I just knew I had to somehow recreate it at home. I had tried it a few times before, but it was always bitter or too strong or just off.
I have tried it a few times now and this is the closest I have been to masala chai that I used to drink with dairy milk. So yes, it is indeed possible to have a very good cuppa masala chai that is made vegan! The directions are a little different than using dairy milk
Ingredients (makes 2 cups of about 6-7 ounces each)
- Black tea – 3 tsps
- Sugar – to taste, but 3 tsps works for me
- Water – 1 cup/ 8 ounces/ 240 ml
- Unsweetened soy milk – 1 cup/ 8 ounces/ 240 ml
- Cardamom powder/ Elaichi powder – ½ tsp
- Chai masala – ½ tsp (Fromthe Indian store)
- Ginger, freshly grated – 1 tsp
- Pour water in a pot and bring to a rolling boil
- Add loose black tea and bring down the heat to medium, a minute or so
- Add chai masala, sugar, Cardamom and ginger. Stir well.
- Add the soy milk and turn off heat in about a minute
- Let tea steep for a little while (2 minutes) and now you can pour into mugs through a strainer.
Masala chai with vegan murukku from my mother in law (murukku usually has butter, but she made it without):
I bet the number of ways in which masala chai can be made is likely mind boggling – so this is just one more way that works. But I am happy to note that it is possible and tastes quite like the real thing. I just need to make some for my chai loving friends now.