While the rest of the world has morning coffee, Qataris head to their favorite chai karak joint to get their daily dose.
All over Qatar, whether early in the morning or later on in the evening, cars are lined up waiting to get their drive-thru order of chai karak. This Arabian version of the Indian-native masala chai is one of the Gulf Region’s most popular drink.
When you first hear about, it sound slightly odd and weird. You’d never expect that such a mixture would result in a tasty drink that is both spicy and sweet. And what makes it even odder, is that you’d expect the favorite drink of a country with a hot climate like Qatar to be a refreshing cold drink, but no no no, they like it very hot.
Chai karak, or karak tea, come in many versions, but the base mixture is the same – black tea, evaporated milk, sugar and green cardamom. Variants of the tea might include spices like ginger, cinnamon, saffron, and/or peppercorn.
The most popular time of day to have chai karak is pretty much any time of the day. While it is mostly drunk in your car while cruising around town or during strolls on the Corniche or the park, it is also found popular with food, mornings, evenings, and even when sitting in coffee shops.
Preparing the drink is very easy and only takes minutes. You boil about a teaspoon of loose black tea leaves with a teaspoon of cardamom (crushed or whole) and keep them over high heat for a few minutes, until the tea turns dark. Then you add sugar to your liking, followed by the milk. Enough milk is when the mixture becomes creamy and brownish. Let it boil over low heat for another minute or two and your milky tea will be ready.
The amount of cardamom in karak tea gives it several medicinal properties. Cardamom is known to help with nausea, acidity, bloating, gas, heartburn, loss of appetite, constipation, as well as lowering blood pressure and prevent the formation of blood clots.
You’ve read about it, you know how it’s made, give it a try and share with friends.