Brewing Masala Chai tea under God’s eye
A swig of chai
Masala - or kitli - chai is part and parcel of life in the old city. No business gets done without a swig of chai or in the words of Manekbhai, one of the servers at Bhole: “to run a successful business you need the acumen, capital and Ahmedabadi kitli chai’. Kitli chai is a local term for the famous masala chai sold at the tea stalls. Bhole Tea Centre is a popular name in Manek Chowk and supplies tea to most shops here. The tea being strong is served in small offering in shot like paper cups (Rs. 10), enough to energise you up.
Why is this tea stall worth a visit? Their exceptional ‘special chai’ is immensely popular, but the stall’s quirky details make it worth a visit even if you’re not into tea. The wall is adorned with more than 100 posters of Gods from different religion. As Manekbhai explains: “This is not to spread a moral message, but simply a practical solution to a recurring problem. Because we’re so close to the Manek Chowk Bazaar, every morning the stall would be cluttered with trash from previous night, so we put posters of Gods to curb the littering and it seems the ‘divine intervention’ works.”
Make your own chai
If you walk straight from the Bhole Tea Centre into Manek Chowk Road, just a little ahead of the Jama Masjid’s entrance, lies a row of tea companies selling different tea leaves, tea masala powder and other ingredients. The guys at Bhole buy their tea leaves from Rajhuns Premium Tea Leaves. The kitli style of making tea is as follows: Boil water for a few minutes, put tea leaves, add milk, let the mixture come to boil at least 4 times, add masala and sugar to taste and let it simmer for a short while. And viola you have got yourself a piping hot cup of masala chai.