It took me a pandemic to realise that I had taken my chai trips for granted and until my chai date with Mudra Keswani urf Super Chatori, Kerala Chaya and Mumbai’s cutting chai were on top of my list.
It was on March 3rd that all of us food fanatics from across the country met under one roof again to celebrate the grand launch of Culinary Culture. A day before the event, Mudra and I decided to head out for chai hunting. As ardent chai lovers, we realised we had made the worst decision ever to choose Chaayos to spend the evening. Not only was the tea below average but the pricing irked us. We were quite disappointed on having to use up the love of our life hashtags, #TodaysChaya and #ChaiBae on such a dreary tea.
As we were walking out of Kamala Mills we spotted Shiv Sagar, not that it was the best choice, but better than Chaayos of course. Both of us are food writers, we weren’t short of topics to discuss while we waited for a plate of Idli Sambhar Vada and two strong cups of tea. It is always a joy to speak to like-minded people, we spoke about how trying food writing is as a profession and how our journey has been. I learnt about the nuances of Sindhi cuisine and how Bhopali Rezala is different from the Bengali one. She added that the dish had a hue of green owing to the use of coriander leaves and was mostly made with Chicken, unlike the creamy Bengali Mutton Rezala. In return, I shared a few facts on Kerala cuisine. All of this happened over a plate of passable Idly and cold vada.
In due course, Mudra introduced me to the world of chai in Bhopal, the multiple varieties, but one in particular, the ‘Namak Vali Chai’ – salted tea. If you think this is bizarre, you definitely haven’t heard of Nun Chai from Kashmir, have you? Apparently, the tea leaves are boiled for hours together and the chai gives you a sucker punch that will awaken you! According to Mudra, the sensation of this chai would linger in one’s mouth for a while. My want to try this delicacy from Bhopal has been on my list ever since.
In the world of food and beverage, there is no dearth of learning, we learn something new and fascinating with every meal, every conversation and Every Sip of Chai! When Mudra and I decided to head out for a strong cuppa little did we know we would return respecting another food culture a little more than we did, that is what conversations do to us, it brings us closer. I am sure I would reminisce this chai-ful evening when I lay my hands on the Rezala and Namak Vali Chai for very the first time!