At one time, Irani chai defined the café culture in Hyderabad, especially the old city. Introduced by settlers from Persia, the beverage and the places serving it evolved into an institution over time.
There is an interesting story behind Irani chai’s origin in Hyderabad. It is said that Persian immigrants came to Mumbai’s port in the last century in search of a better life and to trade. From Mumbai, they migrated to Pune and then to Hyderabad. Along with them came the concept of Irani chai.
The difference between Irani chai and rest of the Indian tea styles is in the brewing process and spices added. The tea leaves are steeped with cinnamon and cardamom in a sealed pan while milk and cream are boiled in a separate container. The flavored tea is first strained and then poured in a mug and thickened with the milk and cream mixture. This process is still done at cafes and hotels in Hyderabad city to this day.
Irani Dum Chai- Hyderabadi Creamy Tea
- 2 Saucepans
- Mesh strainer
- Wooden spoon
- 4 cups Water
- 4 tbsp Black tea leaves (Darjeeling)
- 3 pods Cardamom, crushed
- 1 stick Cinnamon`
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 2 cups Whole milk
- ½ cup Condensed milk
- 4 tbsp Heavy cream
- In a saucepan, bring water, tea, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and sugar to a boil.
- Seal the saucepan with aluminum foil and then press the lid over that. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Once done, strain the tea and discard the solid parts.
- While the tea is steeping, bring milk to a boil in another saucepan. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium and add cream and condensed milk. Place wooden spoon in milk to keep it from boiling over. Simmer 20 minutes, uncovered, to thicken milk mixture.
- Pour the strained tea into cups and then top with the milk mixture. The aromatic Irani Chai is now ready to enjoy with some dunked Osmania biscuits or shortbread cookies.