Stop by any Bombay tapri (street stall), café, or home, and you will likely find yourself with a gently steaming glass of chai in hand.
Before the invention of chai, Bombayites drank kadha, an ayurvedic remedy for coughs and colds made of boiled water and spices like cardamom, cloves and nutmeg. Eventually locals started adding tea leaves, milk, honey and sugar to their ‘kadha’. Chai was born.
Today, chai represents many things. A refreshing welcome for guests in our homes. A connection to our identity, for every region and every family has their own recipe. And comfort. Its taste transports us back to picking tea leaves from our grandparents’ gardens, and watching them brew the rich nectar that could mend a grazed knee (and, later, a broken heart) with one sip.
In Bombay, chai is the fuel that keeps the city running. Chai-wallas on crowded streets stir simmering pots of the city’s quintessential ‘cutting chai’ — a half measure that came about thanks to Bombayites’ incessant chai drinking. This special brew is boiled a little longer to make it kadak (strong), then served in glasses half the size of traditional chai, meaning Bombayites can stop for as many as they wish, without sending themselves skywards on a caffeine trip.
And in our own cafés, chai is just as essential. For one thing, it helps keep our kitchens running; our chef-wallas drink Kitchen Chai (very strong, very sweet) by the bucketload. But it is part of who we are and how we wish our guests to feel. A bubbling pot of our House Chai (a blend we perfected over ten years ago) is never far from our front door, its spicy scent welcoming clock-watching office workers, sleep-deprived parents and languorous lovebirds. And, once seated, as you cradle your warm glass and chat, or gulp down your milky nectar with the desperation of three hours of sleep, we await our opportunity to replenish your bottomless chai. To make you feel everything chai makes us feel. Rejuvenated and reconnected. Home.
For over 10 years, we’ve been lovingly brewing Chef Naved's recipe every day in our cafés. We are truly thrilled to be able to share this blend with you. Containing best-quality Assam tea and Dishoom signature spices – just add fresh ginger, milk and sugar for endless comfort in as little as 20 minutes.
There are now ample ways to delight in this heart-warming delicacy. Bestow instant warmth with our House Chai blend, first-class gift-sets and bountiful hampers. Enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice.
With February comes a gladdening of spirits, lighter morning skies and discernibly louder birdsong. It is also the month to bid farewell to our winter cocoons (at least partially) and tune back into the world beyond our blankets. Allow us to ease the de-hibernation process, by sharing some of the things piquing our interest this month.
“Who wants to see some magic?” Chef Arun calls out. He flings the rolled out dough into the air, sending it soaring above the counter. It spins and twists, a graceful dancer in the air. The children watch its arc, their eyes wide with wonder, until it lands gently back in the chef's hands. The children shriek in delight.
January is a most divisive month. For some it heralds the hopeful turning over of new leaves; for others it is a month to trudge begrudgingly through towards the promise of spring. Whichever camp you find yourself in, we have plentiful diversions to share. See them as the cherry atop your already gleeful January cake, or a welcome distraction while you await winter’s end.
I AM HERE, dear reader, slovenly and slouched, staring into my drink at the end of the bar in our new restaurant in Battersea. My mind is still down and out, sifting around in the dregs of ’23 but of course it knows that I should really straighten my back, raise my chin and look squarely up into the cold new light of ’24. My drink – Choti’s Punch – clear and strong, sweet with a little salt, may help.