Although I love my mum’s chai, some of the best stuff I’ve ever had has been from roadside stalls in India (many with dubious hygiene credentials). The reason being that these chai wallahs do one thing and they do it well—they’ve perfected their game by serving up hundreds of cups, dawn to dusk, every single day. Their chai, often potent, and drunk while standing by the chai wallah’s stall, is served in small glasses called “cutting chai,” i.e., a cut portion of chai.

    While I don’t normally take sugar in my tea, just a little in this chai really brings out the flavor of the ginger and spices.

    Makes 4 cups

    8 cardamom pods
    2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
    4 whole cloves
    ½ cinnamon stick
    2 cups whole milk
    2 black tea bags
    sugar to taste

    Bruise the cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle until cracked. Place in a saucepan with the ginger, cloves, cinnamon stick, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, add the milk and tea bags, and bring back up to boiling point again. Strain into cups, and serve with sugar alongside for people to add as they wish.