The first local train in Mumbai starts at 3.20 am. The first Chaiwallah starts earlier. From his bag of spices, he pulls out the tea, cardamom, fennel, and fresh ginger. Places the copper pot on the fire, in goes the ingredients one by one, grated and beaten, into the boiling water, and simmered to add milk and sugar.
The hustling city of Mumbai gains speed and when you stay there, you feel the madness. Luckily, Chai comes to the rescue and helps slow down for a moment, easing the senses. Truly Mumbai’s lifeline- Chai!
The concept of Chai in Mumbai started as refreshing breaks to the day. People wanted to get breaks with Chai but drinking a hearty full cup at every break was not possible. Thus, Cutting Chai arrived at the culture of Mumbai. The glass, half-filled, is now imbibed in the people of Mumbai, that just Cutting word itself means Chai. If you are craving for some ginger and herbal blend, call for a special Chai or like how the locals call it- Pecial (no sound of s). At the same time, many of the tea stalls make Chai separately from milk. One container has tea leaves boiled in the water while the other one contains boiled milk. As per the customers’ requirements, the Chai wallah takes the proportion, Paani kam doodh– less water, more milk and doodh kam paani– less milk, more water.
Every street will have at least 2-3 Chai wallahs serving their loyal customers every single day, and at the same time, every Chai drinker will have a favorite Chai wallah.
Chai in Mumbai is paired usually with a soft bread popularly called Bun maska (soft bread layered with butter), a favorite combination in every Irani and Parsi Cafe, street-side Vada pav (A deep-fried potato inside a bread), and/or Samosas (A deep-fried triangular pastry consisting of a savory filling of potatoes and vegetables).
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