In an effort to fill in some gaps on the blog (see the bhindi masala post), I’ve created a masala chai recipe. Saptarshi, my husband, has been pleading with me for years to write a basic tea recipe, given the importance of chai in Pakistani households. We only have simple Lipton black tea at home in Islamabad, which is made in a teapot for a few minutes and served with milk and sugar. It wasn’t compelling enough to merit a blog entry. However, when I tried this Lahore Deli Chai recipe a few years back, I discovered the unique pleasures of a spicy, creamy chai. When I made it again a few weeks ago, I found it to be a little too hot and milky for my liking. There has to be a happy medium.

This masala chai recipe falls somewhere in the middle. Doodh pati — tea leaves boiled in milk – is a popular roadside Pakistani chai. Lahore Deli offers a similar variant. However, because I can’t handle too much milk in my coffee or tea, I tweaked the recipe to make it less milky. I learned a lot from my buddy Izzah’s authentic chai recipe on her blog, as well as Numra of Empress Market’s Instagram guide.

This recipe for masala chai is for me. You’ll have to search elsewhere if you’re looking for a doodh pati recipe or a particularly sophisticated masala chai. This tea is lightly flavoured with a pinch of ground fennel seeds and cardamom and steeped mostly in water (rather than milk). I experimented with the recipe a few times, and this is what I discovered.


  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of fennel seeds ground
  • 4 cardamom pods removed and ground
  • 5 teaspoon loose black tea or teabags
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 teaspoon sugar or to taste


  • Bring 4 cups water to boil. Reduce to simmer and add ground spices and tea. Let it simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in milk. Bring to boil.
  • Lower heat and let milk simmer for 8 minutes, whisking occasionally and skimming any residue from the top.
  • Remove from heat, stir in sugar or sweetener.
  • Strain and pour in mugs or teacups.

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