Drinks, Pakistani / Indian

Dhaba Chai (Tea)


Tea is most loved drink in the Indian subcontinent. With variations from all cultures and regions you will find that it boils down to literally 4 main ingredients, tea, milk, water and sugar. Some people liked like their tea spiced and others sweet but the purpose of tea is to have a refreshing hot beverage that sharpens the mind early in the morning, after a hectic afternoon or a tiring day!

What is Dhaba?

Dhaba is a roadside or highway side restaurant or diner in the Indian subcontinent. Dhabas are very famous for their tea because their main purpose when they first started operating was to serve tea to tired truck drivers and travellers.

How to get the perfect color:

The key is to make sure you use loose tea. Yes, it’s an extra step to strain the tea after it’s done and a tea bag is convenient but to achieve the deep caramel color you have to use loose tea. Also, only add the tea when the milk and water comes to boil. Adding the tea before the water and milk has had a chance to heat up will end up in a more blonde color tea then caramel.

Spice and Sugar:

There are many spices you can add to the tea, for instance grated ginger, dried or fresh basil, cinnamon stick, star anise, a premade spice blend or green cardamom seed powder. In our family we prefer the classic green cardamom seed powder but you can substitute with your prefered spice. A perfect cup of tea is a harmony of balanced flavors but everyone has a different palate. I personally like my tea slightly sweet which is why I add very little sugar but you can adjust the sweetness according to taste. It is also an option to not add any sugar to the tea at all and serve it on the side. A true dhaba style tea is however, is very sweet. The purpose of that is to waken up the senses when one is extremely tired

Cooking the Tea:

You know it is considered an art to cook tea! Even though it is one of the most easiest recipes out there but the art of making tea is in how it’s cooked. It is very important to first of all watch the tea very closely while it cooks or you’ll have a huge mess to clean after. The boiling process and the timing of when to add the ingredients is also very important. Cooking the tea at medium low heat for it to develop flavor and patience my friends, is the key to success.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve the tea at breakfast with your favorite avocado toast, eggs or muffins and in the evening with your favorite snacks. My favorite snack to enjoy with tea are pakoras, deep fried, crispy mixed vegetable fritter, might I suggest a recipe of my own https://youtu.be/sACF7hhACcw.

I hope you enjoy making tea for your family and friends as much as I do!

Here’s a fun quick process video https://www.instagram.com/p/CLm5UloBmCm/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Dhaba Chai (Tea)

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Recipe by Fatima Maniya Soorty Course: Drinks, Pakistani / IndianDifficulty: Easy


Cooking time



Pakistani style black tea cooked with milk and sugar.


  • 1 cup Milk

  • 1 Cup water

  • 3 tbsp Loose Black Tea

  • 1/2 tsp Green Cardamom Seed Powder

  • Sugar to Taste


  • Heat 1 cup milk and 1 cup water in a saucepan.
  • To this add sugar to taste ( I did 2 tsp) and 1/2 tsp green cardamom seed powder and stir.
  • Once it come to a boil, add the loose black tea.
  • Stir with a ladle to bring out the color.
  • Turn the heat up and down a few times while carefully watching the tea so it doesn’t boil over.
  • Now turn down the heat and cook the tea on low flame for 5 minutes until it thicken and turns dark caramel color.
  • Strain, serve and enjoy!

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