Warming chai can fill one’s cup, but what about one’s stomach? Grumbles meet their match in The Tea Centre’s latest entry all about the best foods to pair with chai!
A delicious cup of chai (especially one made using our traditional stovetop recipe) in the winter can certainly keep you warm and cosy…but fed? You’re gonna need a little more than chai—i.e. carbs—to appease that appetite!
Luckily, The Tea Centre has twenty-nine years’ worth of chai-drinking experience, and plenty of expertise when it comes to eating too! Therefore, we’ve come to know through simple trial and error what foods pair best with different flavours of chai.
Moreover, because chai is traditionally an Indian beverage, we thought it best to recommend traditional Indian meal pairings too! So sit back, relax, and read all about our favourite food and tea pairings below. Preferably with a cup of chai in hand.
1 | Samosa x Green or Masala Chai
A pairing as old as time is an Indian samosa and masala chai. Since its introduction to Indian palettes by Central Asian chefs in the thirteenth century, the humble golden triangle has always found a friend in chai, with the pair making dual appearances on breakfast tables and street vendors all across the Indian subcontinent.
Why do they taste so good together, you ask? Even with vegetarian varieties, samosas are known to be quite meaty and filling in flavour. These are factors that masala chai offsets perfectly with its fragrant cardamom and rose blend, not to mention the sharpness of ginger.
For the non-traditionalists, we’d also recommend that you give green chai a whirl next time you’re enjoying a samosa. Crisp-tasting green tea not only cuts through the fat content in samosas, but is thought to be a healthier chai alternative too! At least that’s what we tell ourselves when reaching for seconds…
2 | Gulab Jamun x Dandelion or Oriental Chai
Rolling in as another one of The Tea Centre’s favourite chai pairings is gulab jamun and oriental or dandelion chai. When it comes to sugary and milky desserts like gulab jamun, you can strike the best balance with beverages that are more bitter or even spicy in flavour.
With that in mind, we would recommend pairing this mithai favourite with our tastefully astringent dandelion chai. This tea’s main ingredient (roasted dandelion root) is similar to coffee in that it’s super rich and biting when it comes to aftertaste. This works wonderfully with gulab jamun’s soft texture and syrupy profile.
Alternatively, you can also get that biting sensation that pairs so well with desserts from the peppery cloves and strong star anise in oriental chai. Making demure the more saccharine components of dessert foods, oriental chai also hits the palette with delightful woodsy notes from cinnamon and tart ginger too.
3 | Dum Biryani x Vanilla or Mumbai Chai
When it comes to a delicious plate of chicken, saffron, and rice, all you need is a little extra spice! Moreover, since dum biryani always has garam masala blends on its ingredient list, any one of our seven chai would certainly compliment this dish.
However, our loose leaf experts believe that vanilla and Mumbai chai suit it best. This is due to both teas containing the same wow factor: liquorice! When it comes to this versatile root, more is more. Nothing brings out the big savoury notes in biryani like liquorice, which somehow is both woodsy, intense, and aromatic all at the same time.
Opt for Mumbai if want some extra fruit notes (juniper berries and orange peel) or vanilla if you prefer subtle sweetness instead. Either way, biryani is made better when it has a cup of chai for company!
4 | Kanda Bhaji x Green or Rooibos Chai
Not only is rooibos (a herbal tisane that tastes like black tea) a wonderful and earthy accompaniment to crispy Kanda bhaji but this chai’s anise and fennel seeds are also great a refreshing one’s breath. In fact, some parts of India regularly use these seeds in mukhwas (digestive aid) because of their cleansing properties.
Also very cleansing is the catechins in the base of green chai! Because of its antibacterial properties, green tea is super effective at counteracting and deodourising the sulphur components in Kanda bhaji. Moreover, moreish spices in this chai (peppercorns, cloves, ginger, anise, and cinnamon) really elevate the softer, sweet flavour in this Indian-style fritter.
Looking to experiment with chai pairings and discover the perfect matches for yourself? Be sure to explore our range of chai here. You’ll be pairing chai with your favourite foods in no time!