Cutting Chai

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Cutting Chai with step by step photos. Cutting chai is a word that every person in Mumbai is well versed with. What is cutting chai? It is half a portion of chai/tea. Its served in special kind of glasses instead of cups. I have shared the photo of this glass below. This strong chai is made with black tea, milk, cardamom powder, grated ginger and sugar.

cutting chai served in glasses along with biscuits

Chai is nostalgic as during my college days as well as office days, I would go out during the breaks to have some chai with snacks. Earlier with my college friends and then later with office colleagues, we used to visit the chai stall (also called as Tapri) and have chai with some biscuits or khari biscuits.

Sometimes we would have vada pav or bhajiya pav with chai. I also used to visit Irani restaurants (the Irani cafe near Andheri station which has closed now and one in fort) and have chai there with bun maska.

Having cutting chai is quite a regular affair in Mumbai. Plus they are not expensive too. You don’t get to see cutting chai being served, anywhere else except on the streets of Mumbai. I was missing cutting chai so made this. Best part of making this tea at home is you could have the full glass instead of half glass 😉

cutting chai recipe

How is cutting chai made?

Tea is brewed with tea leaves, ginger and cardamom powder along with milk. The tea is boiled for a longer time so it becomes a really strong chai and has a dominant flavor of cardamom followed by ginger.

You can club the cutting chai with Onion Pakoda or Samosa or masala vada. You could even have sandwiches or veg cutlet or aloo tikki with tea. Bun maska and cutting chai is our favorite. Sometimes I just pair cutting chai with bread-butter. Simple food but amazing.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Cutting Chai

1. Keep all the ingredients ready for making the cutting chai. Peel the ginger skin and keep aside. The number of cardamoms in the below pic is only for reference and not the actual amount added in the chai.

ginger sugar and green cardamom on a white plate

2. Crush 2 to 3 green cardamoms in a mortar-pestle.

crushing green cardamom in a mortar pestle

3. Crush till you get a semi-fine or coarse powder. Alternatively, you can also grind green cardamoms in a small coffee grinder until a fine powder is formed.

Also grate or crush the ginger and keep it aside.

crushed green cardamom

4. Heat 2 cups water in a vessel or pan. When the water becomes hot, then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar or according to taste.

sugar added to hot water

5. Now add the grated or minced ginger. You can also crush the ginger and then add it. Choose to add less ginger if you want.

crushed or grated ginger added

6. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on a medium heat.

simmer the spiced water

7. Add the crushed cardamom powder.

Adding the crushed cardamom powder

8. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes more.

boiling water

9. Add 2 teaspoons of Assam tea powder or black tea powder. The tea used to make chai is in the form of granules and we call them tea powder.

Assam tea makes for a strong brew. For a lighter brew add Darjeeling tea powder or your preferred tea.

Assam tea powder added

10. Boil the tea on a medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or as needed. For a more stronger tea, you can boil for some more minutes.

We usually boil the tea after adding the tea powder. If you have used Darjeeling tea or any lighter version of tea powder or tea leaves then steep the tea in the hot water for 3 to 4 minutes or as needed.

For steeping add the tea leaves or your preferred tea and switch off the heat. Stir to mix and cover the pan with a lid.

boiling the tea

11. Pour ¼ to ½ cup of milk. If you like strong tea then add ¼ cup of milk. If you like more milk then add ½ cup.

milk added

12. Continue to simmer the tea for 1 to 2 minutes on medium heat.

simmering the cutting chai in the pan

13. Switch off the heat, strain the tea onto a mesh strainer kept above the serving glasses or cups.

pouring cutting chai into glasses

14. Serve the cutting chai hot along with some tea time snacks like nankhatai, pakora or samosa or murukku or sandwich or biscuits.

cutting chai served in glasses along with biscuits

Few more similar recipes for you!

  • Masala chai – Indian spiced tea made with whole spices.
  • Ginger tea – warm, spiced Indian tea made with milk, ginger and cardamom.
  • Mint tea – light, aromatic and refreshing Indian style mint tea with milk.
  • Herbal tea – Indian style herbal tea made from herbs, ginger, cardamom and lemon grass.
  • Filter coffee – easy to prepare and popular South Indian filter coffee recipe in just 15 minutes.

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cutting chai recipe

Cutting Chai

Mumbai cutting chai is a strong tea made with Assam tea powder or black tea powder, milk, sugar and spices like ginger and cardamom.

4.88 from 8 votes

Prep Time 2 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Total Time 17 mins


Preparing Cutting Chai

  • Heat water in a vessel or pan with a handle or a saucepan.

  • Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar.

  • Now add the grated ginger. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat.

  • Then add the crushed cardamom powder. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes more.

  • Then add 2 teaspoons of Assam tea powder or black tea powder.

  • Brew the tea on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes.

  • Pour ¼ to ½ cup of milk. If you like strong tea then add ¼ cup of milk if you like more milk then add ½ cup of milk.

  • Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes or until the tea comes to a boil on medium heat.

  • Switch off the heat. Strain the tea on a mesh strainer. Pour into glasses or cups.

  • Serve cutting chai hot along with your favorite tea time snacks.

  • You could use store bought cardamom powder instead of homemade one.
  • If ginger isn’t available then use dry ginger powder. However, the flavor and aroma will change.

Nutrition Facts

Cutting Chai

Amount Per Serving

Calories 46 Calories from Fat 9

% Daily Value*

Fat 1g2%

Saturated Fat 1g6%

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 1g

Cholesterol 2mg1%

Sodium 17mg1%

Potassium 37mg1%

Carbohydrates 9g3%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 9g10%

Protein 1g2%

Vitamin A 33IU1%

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%

Vitamin B6 1mg50%

Vitamin B12 1µg17%

Vitamin C 1mg1%

Vitamin D 1µg7%

Vitamin E 1mg7%

Vitamin K 1µg1%

Calcium 30mg3%

Vitamin B9 (Folate) 1µg0%

Iron 1mg6%

Magnesium 5mg1%

Phosphorus 18mg2%

Zinc 1mg7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Cutting Chai post from the archives first published in July 2016 has been republished and updated on 28 June 2022.

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