Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kashmiri Pink Chai- an Ongoing Experiment

I drank my last cup of authentic kahwa back when I was a kid at the Vaishnavis' residence back in Delhi. Kahwa is Kashmiri chai/tea and is the most delicious type of chai I have ever had. I remember it being a beautiful pink colored concoction, sweet, with a hint of savory, full of nuts and munakka, i.e. golden raisins, and simply delicious. The other evening I suddenly craved for kahwa and decided to make it myself. After searching online, I kind of got the idea. And with great enthusiasm, I began. 


1. Green tea leaves, good quality (not the tea bag kind)- 2-3 tsp 

2. Baking soda- 1/2 tsp

3. Salt- 1/2 tsp

4. Cardamom- 2 pods

5. Almonds, crushed- 2-3 tsp

6. Golden raisins- 7-10 

7. Water- 2 cups

8. Milk- enough to maintain pink color

9. Sugar (optional)- 1/2- 1 tsp 


1. Add 2 cups of water, green tea leaves, and cardamom to a pot. Get the heat going.

Water, Green Tea, Cardamom

2. Bring it to a boil. Add baking soda and stir vigorously for a few seconds, until the water starts turning red! Yes, it will turn red. 

Fun Fact: There's chemistry behind it! 

Green tea reacts with NaHCO3 (Sodium bicarbonate i.e. baking soda) in water and turns red under high temperature. 

I tried and tried to find out the exact reaction that occurs, but I couldn't find it. So for now, I just take joy in the fact that Kashmiri Chai making is in fact a scientific experiment that I can conduct in the comforts of my own kitchen!!   

Baking Soda + Green Tea in Water, boiling temperature= Red!! 

3. Continue boiling for a few more seconds, reduce flame, and start adding milk until a lovely pink color is achieved. Stop. Add salt. Stir. 

Optional: I like my kahwa a bit sweet too, so I add sugar as well. 

4. In a cup with crushed almonds (or pistachios) and golden raisins, pour this lovely pink chai, stir, and enjoy! 

Now for the truth: 

*I have tried making this chai 5 times so far. I was successful twice. 2 out of 5, not bad, I suppose.

*For some reason, I seem to get to the red color stage, but then, after adding milk, it stays pink for a few seconds, and then it just turns brown.

*Taste: Quite delicious 

*BUT: Why doesn't it stay pink?? 

Some pictures: 

Attempt 1: Disaster 

Boiling, froth, looks alright

#1: Disaster!! 

Attempt 2: Not bad.... but still, not quite up to the mark

#2: Nope! 

Attempts 3 and 4: Successful!!

Looking red, looking good! 

#3: Yessss!

Red- good! 

#4: Oh yessss! 

Attempt 5: Disaster!!

#5: What? Where's the pink?? 

Factors to consider for next attempt: 

1. Time (?)
2. Temperature (?)
3. Type of green tea leaves (?)
4. Will figure out.....

Conclusion: I haven't quite mastered the technique and art of making Kashmiri kahwa. It definitely is an experiment of its kind. I suppose practice makes perfect..... so I'll just continue practicing until I experience that eureka! moment.

Oh, most important ingredient: Patience, my friend, patience

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