By Malika Kaloo
Snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, glistening rivers, dark green forests and noon chai will greet you when you visit Kashmir. Also known as sheer chai or pink tea, it is a traditional beverage that has been a part of Kashmiri breakfast for centuries. It is a symbol of Kashmiri culture and hospitality. This delicious tea derives its name from “noon,” the Kashmiri word for salt and “sheer,” the Farsi word for milk. The distinctive pink color is achieved by boiling green tea leaves with baking soda a number of times. Noon chai is usually served with Kashmiri breads such as Kulcha, Lavasa, Tchawor and Girda. Traditionally, this tea is made in large copper kettles called “Samavar” during weddings, Eid and large gatherings. Over the decades, Kashmiris have incorporated noon chai into their daily routine, having it at least twice daily. Whether you are at the breakfast table or enjoying evenings by the river side, Noon chai is a must. Interestingly, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, you can try a sweet version of this tea. Its rich, creamy taste and unique aroma make noon chai a perfect drink for the cold, snowy mornings of Kashmir.
Cooking Time: 1 hour Ingredients: 4 tablespoons of green tea Pinch of baking soda 2 cups of milk Salt to taste Fresh cream (optional) Crushed almonds and pistachios Rose petals for garnishing
In the United Arab Emirates, there are many Pakistani restaurants that serve Kashmiri tea and they are quite popular among both the nationals and expatriates. Now is the time you make it at home yourself.
Here are five easy steps to a perfect cup of noon chai.
- The process starts with boiling four tablespoons of green tea and a pinch of baking soda in half a cup of ice-cold water till the water evaporates completely. Usually, Kashmiris use gunpowder tea leaves for making noon chai. However, you can use regular green tea.
- Add half a cup of water to it again and let it evaporate. Repeat the process at least four times to get the perfect consistency and color. It might sound a lot, but this step makes your noon chai flavorful so it is important not to skip it.
- Now add three to four cups of water and let it boil for a few minutes until it turns reddish brown.
- Add two cups of milk and salt to taste and cook it for five minutes. The tea is now pink in color. Additionally, you may add a teaspoon of butter for extra flavor. You can also add fresh cream to add richness and texture.
- Strain the tea and pour it into small mugs. Top it with almonds and pistachios and garnish with rose petals. Voilà, your noon chai is ready.